Corned beef—a St. Patrick's Day standby—is made from brisket that has been cured and preserved with salt, sugar, and various spices. That's right: salt and a little time are all you need to transform a tough, lean brisket into a tender braise that is right at home alongside cabbage and in-season root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Made with efficiency in mind, the beauty of this corned beef is that it  cures in just five days—about a third of the time that most other recipes take. 

Martha Stewart Living, March 2020


Credit: Thomas Loof

Recipe Summary

50 mins
5 hrs 30 mins
Serves 12 to 15


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add kosher salt, pink curing salt, sugar, and spices; remove from heat and stir until both salts and sugar have dissolved. Let cool completely. Place brisket in a nonreactive container just large enough to hold it; pour cooled brine over meat. Place 2 small plates on top to keep meat submerged; cover and refrigerate 5 days.

  • Remove brisket; discard brine. Rinse brisket and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add halved onion, celery, and halved carrot; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

  • Meanwhile, set a steamer in a large saucepan. Add enough water to reach the bottom of steamer and bring to a boil. Add turnips, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and steam until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with small carrots and parsnips (together), steaming until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

  • Transfer beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil to keep warm. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve. Return all but 4 cups broth to pot; bring to a boil. Add cabbage, quartered onions, and parsley sprigs; simmer until very tender, about 35 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, in another pot, combine reserved 4 cups broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Strain (reserving broth), then toss potatoes with butter and chopped parsley; cover to keep warm. Add turnips, carrots, and parsnips to pot with cabbage mixture; cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

  • Remove and discard parsley sprigs; transfer vegetables to a platter with potatoes, reserving broth. Trim excess fat from beef. Slice thinly against grain, and transfer to platter. Serve with reserved broth and horseradish sauces.

Cook's Notes

Pink curing salt contains sodium nitrite, a type of salt and antioxidant that helps to block the growth of botulism-causing bacteria and prevent spoilage; it also gives cured meats their signature flavor and pinkish color. In this recipe, it would be safe to omit the curing salt due to the shorter brining period, but the result won't be as intensely flavored.

The spices can be crushed with mortar and pestle or placed in a resealable bag and crushed with a rolling pin.