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Honest Beef Blog / brisket

How Leprechauns Make Corned Beef

How Leprechauns Make Corned Beef

Connealy Angus

The Connealys are Irish.

The Connealy Angus logo features a shamrock, our bull sale catalog is covered in them, and my grandma lives on Irish Lane. My late grandfather could tell a story like no one you've ever heard, and the song "Danny Boy" brought tears to his eyes.

Connealy Angus Sale Catalog

We're proud to be Irish, but know it only really qualifies us to comment on no more than three items:

1) Guinness, 2) tall tales, and 3) corned beef. 

Corned beef is a staple of St. Patrick's Day whether it's served boiled, with cabbage, or in a reuben. And while most choose to buy corned beef as corned beef, making it is not difficult and yields a flavor that will send you over the rainbow! 

The basic concept of homemade corned beef is to make a brine with water, salt, sugar, and pickling spices, let the brisket soak for 5-7 days, and then boil it for a few hours until it is fork tender - not as complicated as you might have thought! 

How Leprechauns Make Corned Beef

Corned Beef


  • 4-5lb brisket


  • 12 cups water
  • 1.5 cups kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pink salt (sodium nitrite)*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp pickling spice (or make your own, see below)
  • 2 gold fillings**
  • 1 Tbsp rainbow dust**
  • 3 butterfly wings**

Homemade Pickling Spice (will make more than this recipe calls for)

  • 1 Tbsp whole allspice berries
  • 1 Tbsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 9 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 large bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 Tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cut into pieces 

To Cook Cured Brisket

  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp pickling spices


  1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients for brine. Bring to a boil, and simmer until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool in ice bath or refrigerator until chilled.
  2. Place brisket in brine. You may do this by placing everything in a 2.5 quart ziplock bag or any container large enough to hold both - a whole drawer in your refrigerator, even! 
  3. Let brisket cure for 5-7 days, occasionally flipping to make sure the brisket is cured evenly.

That's it for the curing! 

Right before you're ready to serve (either the same day or the night before), cook the cured brisket: 

  1. Place chopped carrot, onion, celery, and spices in a pot large enough to hold the brisket.
  2. Remove brisket from brine, rinse, and place in pot on top of chopped vegetables & spices.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until brisket is fork tender, about 3 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket.

And there you have it - homemade corned beef! Slice thinly against the grain and serve warm in any way you desire. 


Erin go Bragh!


*Pink Salt (sodium nitrite) is optional, but it is critical if you want your corned beef to have that nice pink coloring as opposed to gray-brown. It can be found at large supermarkets, or I found it on Amazon in a reasonable amount here. It is a preservative, but rest assured that your homemade corned beef will still have far fewer preservatives than store-bought. 

** jk! unless you have them, then probably wouldn't hurt to throw them in!

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Hannah Raudsepp
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