It's easy to make corned beef. It's even easier to make it during the winter when it's cool in your garage, otherwise you need to take up space in your refrigerator for a few weeks, or put ice into an ice chest and put your container in that. The basic recipe doesn't make a spicy corned beef. The second part of the recipe makes it the way I like it. I will probably make a corned beef right before we leave for New York. When we return it will be ready to cook.
The basic recipe:
A thin cut of beef brisket (I like about 4 or 5 pounds)
course salt, kosher salt - probably between 1 1/2 to 2 cups
a hard boiled egg - this helps figure out if your water is salty enough
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
You need to use a ceramic, glass, or enamel container or crock to hold the brisket. It has to be deep enough to have the brisket under the water and have the water cover it by a couple inches. Make sure it fits into your refrigerator, unless it's cool enough for outside or in the garage.
Figure out how much water you need by putting your meat into the container then filling the container with water to cover two inches. Then take the meat out and put it aside for a few minutes. Stir some of the salt into the water. Let it dissolve. Add the egg. Does the egg float? If so, there is enough salt in the water. If not, add more salt, stir, let it dissolve. Add the egg. Does it float? Keep doing this until you have it just right. Take out the egg when you are done. Stir in the brown sugar. Then put the meat back into the water. Weigh down the meat with a plate, jar filled with water, or whatever you want to use. Put this into the refrigerator for two weeks to a month. That's all there is to it.
Now this is corned, which means pickled, but I like my pickles spicier that that. Just like some people make pickled cukes in just salt water with a little dill, I like my cukes with spices and garlic along with the dill. Sorry, let's get back to making spicier corned beef.
Take your corned beef out of the water. Dry it off. Add the following, or any combination you want:
8 bay leaves, crumbled. If you use fresh leaves like I do then use at least twice as many.
8 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds - hit them with a mallet or something to slightly crush them (it brings out better flavor)
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coarse salt, I use kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or two or three dried crushed hot red peppers
1/2 teaspoon coriander - again hit with a mallet to slightly crush
Rub this mixture on your beef. Put into a plastic bag or some sort of container and put it back into the refrigerator for a few days. Then put the meat and the spices into a pot of simmering water. Simmer it for at least three hours. It's ready after that.
Your corned beef won't be pink like the meat you get from the store. That's because they add saltpeter. I do not.