Paleo Corned Beef
This homemade Paleo corned beef uses basic ingredients and calls for a short, 2 day brine! It’s simple, delicious, and perfect for anyone who loves traditional corned beef but would prefer to control ingredients by making your own from home.
I’ve wanted to create a Paleo-friendly homemade corned beef for you guys for YEARS. In fact, I wrote this one for the blog back in 2013 (not Paleo), using a store-bought pre-brined corned beef and an old family recipe. Back then, I just couldn’t wrap my head around how to brine the darn thing in a way that wouldn’t sacrifice flavor, texture, and food safety. The whole thing intimidated me! I didn’t know which chemicals in the brine were absolutely necessary and which were weren’t. Corned beef is typically prepared by way of a 10-12 day brine, though I have seen some recipes that call for a 5-7 day brine. The brine is usually composed of salt and water (at a very specific ratio), sugar, pink curing salt (the source of sodium nitrite), and a whole mess of spices.
I don’t know if it’s because I now have 3 more years of Paleo kitchen confidence under my belt or if I just drank too much coffee one morning, but I finally decided that I was going to jump back into the homemade corned beef research! I settled on a 2-day “short brine” for my corned beef so that I could get away with using a basic salt brine, any longer (4+ days) and I recommend you use a curing salt with sodium nitrite to help prevent the growth of bacteria. Nervous that two days wouldn’t be long enough to truly get a sufficient amount of that craveable corned beef flavor into the meat, I added a LOT of spice.
To cook the corned beef, I simply rinsed it off, placed it in my favorite slow cooker, added a few fresh spices, and covered it with beef broth. The results BLEW ME AWAY. I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if a short two day brine would yield that tender, flavorful corned beef of my dreams. I didn’t know if the color would be appetizing (some of my research said that the pink salt is needed for an appetizing color). I DID know that in the least, I’d have a cooked and seasoned beef brisket on my hands!
What I was left with was true corned beef. TRUE! It’s ready for a little grainy mustard and to be settled on a plate next to some sauerkraut and potatoes. I like mine wrapped up in a collard green leaf OR even served up between a couple slices of gluten-free rye toast. If you want to enjoy this tasty corned beef for breakfast, keep your eyes peeled for a recipe I have coming later this week!
Moral of this 3+ year in the making recipe story is that where there’s a will there’s a way. All it takes is a little research (method, spice, and food safety related), practice, and confidence. You got this!
Paleo Corned Beef
Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 2 days
Cook Time: 4 hours
- 4-5 pound beef brisket, trimmed
For the brine:
- 2 quarts (or 8 cups) water
- 1 cup fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 3, 3" cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- Prepare the brisket simply by rinsing it with water. Place it in a large glass bowl or (if you prefer) a 2-gallon Ziploc bag.
- To prepare the brine, bring the water to a simmer. Pour in the salt and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Let the water cool until it's safe to touch. Add the rest of the brine seasons, whisk to combine, and pour over the brisket. If you're brining the brisket in a bowl, note that the brisket will likely float. You want to try to keep the meat submerged at all time - placing a small plate or weighted bowl on top can help you accomplish this! If you're using a bag to brine, make sure that you remove all air before sealing. Let the brisket sit in the brine for 36 to 48 hours (two days).
- At the end of the brine, pull the brisket from the brine and rinse thoroughly with water. Place the brisket in the slow cooker, adding the mustard seeds, peppercorn, bay leaves, and broth. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
- To carve, pull the brisket out of the slow cooker, blot dry and carve or shred as you like! Note that I usually separate and discard any extra fat at this point in time.
- Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days. Enjoy!