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Corned Beef Brisket

Corned Beef Brisket
Mike Petrucelli for NPR /

This recipe is adapted from Gene Bamber, owner of Bamber's Superette in South Bend, Ind. The recipe does not include saltpeter, which is used as a preservative but also gives corned beef that distinctive purplish-red color. I don't think you need it. Plus, I never really liked that color anyway. You can also braise the meat in the oven while the vegetables cook, instead of on the stovetop. You won't have to futz with it as much. Just make sure the cover has a tight seal. This tastes awesome if you make it a day ahead and let it sit in its braising liquid overnight. To do that, prepare through the braising, let cool and refrigerate. On the day you serve it, skim any congealed fat off the top of the liquid, and put the whole covered pot in the oven and warm it while you braise the vegetables.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 (3 to 4 pound) beef brisket (I like a flat cut, but the point cut will work, too)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in thirds


4 cups water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 to 2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

Small pinch ground cloves

Braising Liquid

1 or 2 bottles stout beer

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon whole allspice

1/8 teaspoon whole cloves

2 garlic cloves, sliced

Combine brine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, then set aside to cool.

In a 2-gallon sealable plastic or plastic roasting/slow cooking bag, place the brisket, the brine (that you have mixed together) and the two garlic cloves. Make sure all the meat is covered by the brine (cut the brisket in pieces, if necessary). Press out as much air as possible, seal tightly, then place in a pot and refrigerate for about a week, turning occasionally.

Remove brisket from brine and discard brine. Rinse meat thoroughly, then place in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Pour beer over meat so it's 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the sides of the meat. Drink leftover beer. If none is left, open another.

Add peppercorns, mustard seed, allspice, cloves and garlic. Bring to a low boil, skimming off any foam. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, tightly covered, for about 2 hours, turning halfway through the cooking time.

Let rest for 10 to15 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve with mustard. (I'm partial to a nice, spicy stone-ground mustard.)

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