It occurred to me recently that I while I love Reuben sandwiches, I had never had it with home made corned beef, only packaged meat from the store. I thought how it us be so much more flavourful making your own and got hooked on the idea of doing it completely from scratch, brining it for 7 days, even making my own pickling spice.
Corned beef gets its characteristic pink color from sodium nitrite, a chemical compound added for flavour and to help inhibit bacterial growth. Sodium nitrite that is used for curing meat is called “pink curing salt” or "Prague powder." It is NOT Himalayan pink salt.
(*Note: Many people prefer to limit their consumption of cured meats (bacon, ham, pancetta, corned beef) to avoid eating too much sodium nitrate as it is linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. I only eat small amounts of cured meat once in a blue moon, but it's good to be aware. You can make this recipe without the pink curing salt, but it won't have the pink colour people expect in corned beef.)
Keto Corned Beef Recipe
Pickling Spice Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds (brown or yellow)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 9 whole green cardamom pods, seeds removed from pods and pods discarded
- 6 large bay leaves, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ cinnamon stick
(*Note: If you don’t feel like making your own pickling spice, you can buy a blend, but toasting and crushing your own will be more flavourful.)
- 1 gallon (3.8 liters) water
- 300g kosher salt (2 cups of Diamond Crystal brand OR 1 cup 3 ½ tablespoons of Morton's aka Windsor Kosher Salt
- 5 teaspoons pink curing salt (*Optional, see above.)
- 3 tablespoons pickling spices
- ½ cup gold erithrytol monk fruit sweetener
- One 5lb beef brisket
- 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon pickling spices
Optional Roasting Vegetables: - 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in quarters - ½ medium green cabbage, cut in wedges - 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise in thirds (*Or more cabbage if you prefer to use veggies with less carbs, but carrots add a nice pop of colour.)
Toast the allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Keep the spices moving with a spatula as you toast them. You want enough heat to release their flavours, not so much that they burn.
Remove from heat and use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices a little. Alternatively, you can use a bowl and the back of a spoon. Add to a small bowl and stir in the crumbled bay leaves and ground ginger.
Now make the curing brine. Add about 3 tablespoons of the spice mix (saving the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured), plus the half stick of cinnamon, to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, pink salt (if using), and gold erithrytol. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.
Brine the brisket for 5-7 days: Place the brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. If the meat floats, you can weigh it down with a plate. Alternatively, you can use a 2-gallon freezer bag, placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn't end up all over your fridge. Add the brisket to the freezer bag and about 2 quarts of the brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Put the brisket in the fridge and chill from 5-7 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.
Take the roast out of the fridge an hour ahead of time to bring it to room temperature then put it in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring it to a boil over high heat. When the water starts to bubble vigorously, discard the water and pat the corned beef dry. Corned beef is usually a salty meat, but if you prefer it less salty, repeat the blanching process a second time.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Rub all sides of the brisket with the Dijon mustard then sprinkle the remaining pickling spice all over the outside of the brisket. Place the brisket fat-side up in a roasting pan with a rack or use an oven-safe rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Add ½-inch water to the roasting pan and tightly wrap the pan with aluminum foil.
Bake 2 hours or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195°. Check the pan occasionally to ensure it still contains water. If using, add the cabbage, carrots and onions to the pan for the last hour, placing them below the rack with the corned beef.
If you'd like a crispy crust on the top of the brisket, remove the aluminum foil after the brisket reaches the desired temperature. Set the broiler on high and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crispy. Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain and serve with the roast vegetables and mustard if you like. Or use the meat in Reuben sandwiches.
Did you make this keto corned beef recipe? If so, please let me know how it turned out in the comments. Or if you share pics of your creations on Instagram, please tag me so I can see them. Enjoy! :)