Home-Cured Corned Beef

Homemade Corned Beef
Take a peek into most any Filipino’s pantry and you are just as likely to spy a can of corned beef as you are a bottle of fish sauce, banana ketchup, or vinegar.

Because the Philippines was an American colony from 1901-1946, American canned goods like corned beef, Spam, and condensed milk all made their way to the islands (along with other things). Ultimately, these canned goods gained popularity amongst Filipinos and have remained in Filipino cupboards ever since.

Canned corned beef, like Spam, is often enjoyed at breakfast by many Filipinos (myself included). The corned beef is usually sauteed in a bit of oil with some tomatoes, onions, and garlic (at least that’s how I roll) and served alongside the Silog duo of Garlic Fried Rice (Sinangag) and Fried Eggs (Itlog) for a hearty Corned Beef-silog breakfast

Although I do love dusting off the ol’ can o’ corned beef every once in a while, I decided to try my hand at making corned beef from scratch, you know, with it being St. Patrick’s Day and all. So with the help of a nitrite-fortified brine (whoa, sound the nitrite alarm!), I was able to magically transform a beef brisket into a beautifully RED corned beef that was enjoyed on St. Patty’s Day with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots (Irish), and then the very next day with Garlic Fried Rice and eggs (Filipino).

Corned Beef

To make my corned beef, I relied on the recipe from Michael Ruhlman‘s excellent book, Ratio. All you have to do is soak a fresh beef brisket for 4 days in a brine made with salt, sugar, spices, and a little bit of Pink Salt (AKA sodium nitrite, AKA curing salt). The pink salt not only lends flavor, but it also enables the meat to remain a nice reddish pink color even after it’s been cooked for a long period of time. You can easily order pink salt online from Butcher & Packer and other such internet sources. I actually found my curing salt at a local hunting/outdoor sports store (whilst I was shopping and preparing for the zombie apocalypse, natch).

Although there may be some of you out there hesitant to use nitrites or nitrates in your food, they are very safe to consume in moderation (nitrites and nitrates are what make bacon, bacon). To read more about nitrites and nitrates, Ruhlman has a very informative post here.

And if you’re still leery of pink salt, then, by all means, leave it out of your recipe. You don’t have to use pink salt to make corned beef–the resultant corned beef will turn gray after cooking instead of remaining red, but it will still taste delicious. But to me, corned beef ain’t corned beef unless it’s red. And that’s the beauty of making your own corned beef at home–you know exactly what’s going into it and you can control the ingredients yourself.

Anyways, after the brisket has brined for a few days in the refrigerator, it is rinsed off and then gently simmered in water for 2-3 hours until fork tender. With hints of clove, cinnamon, and allspice, the resultant beef is juicy, tender and worlds better than the stuff in a can, and even better than the corned beef you’ll find at most delis. After my first crack at home-cured corned beef, I’ll definitely try to make it at least a few times a year and not just once a year for St. Patrick’s Day.

In fact, although I used the recipe from Ratio this time around, I’m already eyeing this quicker rendition that uses inexpensive chuck roast instead of pricey brisket (I wish I had seen that post a week earlier!). For my next Corned Beef experiment, I may try a Corned Beef Sinigang–which has become popular in Manila over the last few years. But until then, I still have some Corned Beef left over for more Corned Beef-silog, and a Reuben sandwich or two.

Corned Beef

Adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio

2 liters water (half gallon)
12 grams pink salt (about a 1/2 ounce)
25 grams sugar
10 cloves garlic, flattened with the flat side of a knife
50 grams kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon whole allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick, crushed or broken into pieces
6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2.5 pounds beef brisket

Combine the water, pink salt, sugar, and garlic in a pot large enough to also hold the brisket. Combine the rest of the seasonings in a small bowl, then add half of this mixture to the pot and reserve the other half of the seasonings.

Place the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer (the brisket is still not in the pot, you are only making the brine at this point). Stir until the sugar and salts have dissolved and remove the pot from the heat. Allow the pot to cool to room temperature, then place the pot into the refrigerator overnight so that the brine is completely chilled.

Place the brisket into the cold brine, then cover and refrigerate for 4 days, flipping the brisket over half-way through.

Remove the brisket from the brine, discard the brine, and thoroughly rinse the brisket in cold running water.

Place the brisket in a large pot and pour in enough water to just cover the brisket. Stir in the reserved spices then place the pot over high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and gently simmer over low heat for at least 3 hours, or until the brisket is fork tender.

During the last hour and a half of cooking, I added some peeled carrots cut into large chunks and quartered red potatoes to the pot and continued to cook for another 1 hour 30 minutes (time will vary depending on the size of your veg). During the last 15 minutes of cooking, I also added some roughly chopped cabbage to the pot.

After 3 hours, I strained out the brisket and veggies. I then sliced the brisket and served everything with yellow mustard.

The following day, I lightly browned some of the leftover brisket slices in oil and served with garlic fried rice and eggs.

  • alan March 19, 2012, 2:17 am

    to have a very nice website very interesting article
    It looks very interesting I’m going to have to try this when I do the brine of my turkey. Sometimes I just get too lazy to Brine.

  • Kawa March 19, 2012, 2:44 am

    I have fond memories of canned corned beef growing up. Also Cheez Whiz and canned liver pate, though not all at the same time.
    But man, that corned beef makes me hungry. I wonder if you could also make your own pastrami? Not Filipino, but it’d be delicious.

  • Jon March 19, 2012, 9:07 am

    Awesome! You do the same thing my family does with our leftover corned beef brisket (we cheat with the pre-brined ones from the supermarket though). I love fried brisket slices with Silog.
    I’m also curious. When you cook canned corned beef, do you use the ones which are more finely ground (ala Libby’s) or the chunkier, more expensive variety (usually from AUS or NZ)?

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen March 22, 2012, 2:34 pm

    Hey, this corned beef looks so delish! I haven’t made it in a while. Must try your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • hollywoodlicious March 22, 2012, 7:30 pm

    Sarap naman nyan nakakagutom tuloy sa office. Hahaha…

  • Julie March 23, 2012, 8:58 am

    I was daydreaming about corning my own beef this year, but since it would be for a little St. Paddy’s Day potluck at my house and would have to feed my friends, who I love, I wimped out. I still want to, though. I’m intrigued by the corned chuck, but I’m wary of whether it will be as awesome as brisket.
    On a side note, corned beef was one of the non-Filipino dishes my mom would cook when I was really little (as I got older, she really started varying her repertoire). It was and is still one of my most favorite foods, and the hash–oh man, with cubed potatoes, rice, and hard-boiled eggs, then a douse of ketchup–oh man . . .

  • tndcallphilippines March 29, 2012, 12:16 am

    i cant imagine going out of ones way to make corned beef… i think if we do it this way, we will discover what Corned Beef should really taste like (not canned).

  • MrsLavendula March 30, 2012, 6:20 am

    that corned beef looks like it would make a great breakfast plate!

  • immigration lawyers March 30, 2012, 1:13 pm

    Corned beef is one of my favorite breakfast together with rice.I don’t think that there is a corned beef that not in can the cured corned beef. This is much better and fresh.

  • jb April 1, 2012, 12:30 am

    I agree. It’s not corned beef without the red color!
    I used to love the canned corned beef, and would even buy them after I got here. However, a few years back, I tried one of those cured ones available around St. Patty’s and it’s absolutely so much better. Also, instead of boiling it as instructed, I just put it in the oven at 300. They do tend to be very salty though.

  • John Thompson May 25, 2012, 2:11 pm

    I’ve only tried corning beef one time before and would like to try it again. Yours looks great!

  • Bianca Dandoy October 9, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Hello po!
    Can i cook it in a pressure cooker instead of simmering for 3 hours?

  • Natalia Huber October 30, 2012, 11:25 am

    LUMPIA, this name is very Filipino to me. I have heard of this one first in my Filipino friend. That is a delicious food I must say. The one that I tasted has got veges and meat in it.

  • Beef brisket recipes January 18, 2013, 9:32 pm

    I loved your Corned Beef. Thanks for all.

  • Beef brisket recipes January 18, 2013, 9:44 pm

    I loved Cured Corned Beef. Thanks for all.

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  • Multi Skills February 8, 2013, 10:36 pm

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  • Steve Dallas December 11, 2013, 7:29 pm

    do you know where to get pink salt + curing salt in Davao city


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