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.
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.