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The Hirshon Corned Beef

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • For the pickling spice (makes a lot of extra for future use):
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Balinese long pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon ground mace
  • 1 small cinnamon stick, crushed or broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 star anise, broken into points
  • 10 Juniper berries
  • 24 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 2 tablespoons green tea leaves
  • ***
  • For the brine:
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 cups Morton’s kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (pulverized Chinese golden rock sugar is best, or use light brown sugar)
  • 1 ounce (5 teaspoons) pink salt (See Important Note At End Of Recipe!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Hirshon pickling spice (use mine, but if you must, a good store-bought version suffices)
  • One 5pound well-marbled (first-cut) beef brisket – If you can afford a Kobe-style brisket, get it! You want the fat cap still on it, if possible. Ask your butcher.


  1. Make the pickling spice:
  2. Lightly toast the dry spices in a small dry skillet, then smash them with the side of a knife just to crack them.
  3. Combine the cracked spices with the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container or glass jar.
  4. Make the brine:
  5. Combine the water, salt, sugar, pink salt, garlic, and pickling spices in a pot large enough to hold the brisket comfortably. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the brine until it’s completely chilled.
  6. Place the brisket in the brine and weight it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 5 days.
  7. Remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it thoroughly under cool running water. (Resting is not required here because the distribution of the brine will continue in the long, slow cooking process.)
  8. Cooking the beef – the Hirshon method
  9. Place the soaked meat in a large pot with cold water to cover. Add 2 onions chopped in half, 2 scraped carrots, 4 bay leaves and (optionally though strongly recommended) a splash of Tanqueray gin. Bring to the boil, remove the scum and simmer VERY GENTLY for about 3-4 hours, or until you can easily pierce the meat with the point of a knife. The cooking must be so gentle that the surface barely trembles.
  10. Remove the beef, cover with foil to keep it warm, then add 8 small new potatoes (about 1 ¼ pounds), halved to the broth – bring to the boil and simmer 20 minutes or so till tender. Remove taters.
  11. Slice the corned beef across the grain of the meat into thin slices and garnish with the potatoes. Ladle some of the hot cooking liquid over the corned beef and season with pepper. Serve with boiled vegetables and horseradish or use whole grain mustard.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Category: Recipes

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