Braised Corned Beef – NO Nitrates Included

Braised Corned Beef – NO Nitrates Included
This is a healthy version of corned beef that is braised and doesn’t contain any nitrates or other preservatives or artificial coloring. My magically delicious secret is in the brining process. This will knock the green beer out of your hand on St. Patrick’s Day so get started…this brine takes 5 deliciously worth-it days.


Yes, you heard me right — it takes 5 days to create this sexy corned beef brisket — but baby o’ baby…it will hike your skirt and blow cold air up your pants!

And the bonus you get with this recipe is NO nitrates, NO preservatives, and NO artificial coloring. Here’s why we want to avoid those pesky chemical compounds…

  • Nitrates are used to fight bacteria growth in ham, salami, and other processed and cured meats. Additionally, nitrates give these types of meat their pink color. The reason you want to avoid these are that they can damage cells in the body and lead to cancer.
  • Preservatives are similar to nitrates in that they preserve the state of processed food. You want to avoid these because they’re chemicals, not real food. Our bodies have trouble digesting things that aren’t natural which can lead to sickness, fatigue, lack of energy, certain types of cancer, and weight gain.
  • Artificial coloring, again, are chemicals used to make food look how food should look when it’s naturally occurring. In order to give this corned beef that traditional pink color, we’re using beet juice or purple cabbage sauerkraut. All natural goodness that will make you and your body happy after a day of drinking green beer.

Are you ready to pop a Guiness? Or maybe a shot of Jameson is more your style? Either way, let’s get in the Irish spirit for St. Patrick’s Day feast!

We’re going to be using The Fabulous Five cooking method braising which means melt in your mouth beef. If you’d rather a roasted corned beef, check out my Slow Roasted Corned Beef recipe.

This recipe gives you the option of adding potatoes and cabbage in the braise, or you can complete your Irish feast with a side of Colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage). And for dessert, check out my Pot of Gold…you may just like it too much!

Time to get a wee bit Irish!

Serves 4-6

[ingredients title=”Equipment”]

  • 4-5 quart saucepan *
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 2 gal. XL brining zipped lock bag
  • Cooler *
  • Paper towels
  • 6-8 quart large dutch oven or stock pot with lid *
  • Chef knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoon
  • Wire spider
  • Digital thermometer
  • Electric knife (for slicing brisket)


Chef Gerrie’s Equipment Notes:

* Brining bag and cooler: I like to use both the bag and the cooler, but you could do one or the other if you have room in your refrigerator. I usually put the cooler out on my back porch and surround it with ice. You need to keep the temperature around 35° F throughout the 5 day brine to stay safe. This method makes it easy to rotate the meat and make sure it is submerged in the brine, or at least completely covered.

* Dutch oven: Make sure your vessel is large enough to hold the meat and vegetables, plus potatoes and cabbage, if you choose to include them.

[ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

Brining Solution: (First 15 Ingredients)

  • 3 qts. water
  • 2/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 C coarse sea salt
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1/2 t whole cloves
  • 1/2 t ginger, dried
  • 1/2 t thyme leaves, dried
  • 1 t juniper berries
  • 1 t allspice berries
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 2 T black peppercorns
  • 1/2-1 C beet juice or juice from purple cabbage sauerkraut
  • 4-5 lbs. beef brisket, trimmed flat cut without visible grizzle (I recommend grass fed beef because better the quality, better the finished product)
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil, bacon grease, or grass fed beef tallow *
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, medium dice
  • 1-2 Sprigs of thyme
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, medium diced *
  • 2 C Guinness Stout or Porter beer (not quite 2 bottles…so bottoms up! Can’t let that go to waste.)
  • 4 C beef broth or stock
  • 6 medium red potatoes or yukon gold, halved (optional)
  • 1 head savoy cabbage, cut into 6-8 wedges (optional)


Chef Gerrie’s Ingredient Notes:

* Beef tallow: If you’re unfamiliar with this fat, beef tallow is beef oil rendered from beef fats. Yum!

* 1 large carrot: According to Irish legend, the carrot represents a reminder of their enemies! So keep your enemies to one or you’ll piss off the Irishman!

[directions title=”Directions”]

1. Make the brining solution by combining water, brown sugar, coarse sea salt, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, mashed garlic, cloves, ginger, dried thyme, juniper berries, allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
When the salt and sugar have dissolved, remove saucepan from heat and let cool. The brine needs to be cold before adding the brisket, so add ice or refrigerate to speed up the chilling process.
Once cold add the beet juice or purple sauerkraut juice and give it a couple of stirs. Start with a ½ cup and see how you like the color in a couple of days. If you want to add more, that’s up to you.

Curing Spices

Brining Cure

Addition of Beet juice to cooled Brine.

2. Prepare your brining set up. If you’re using a cooler and the brining bag, place the brining bag inside the cooler, then place the brisket in the bag. Cover with the brining solution and zip closed while expelling additional air. Make sure the brine is covering the brisket — you may need to push something (like bags of ice) along the sides of the brisket to maintain submergence and the proper temperature of 35° F.

Beef Brisket

Beginning the 5 Days of Curing Brine of the Beef Brisket

3. Brine for 5 days. Replenish the ice and rotate the brisket in the brining bag periodically. After at least 2 days check the color of the brisket. If you’d like a deeper color, add ¼ – ½ cup of beet juice or purple cabbage sauerkraut juice.
4. Remove brisket from brine and rinse completely. Pat dry with paper towels.

Cured Corned Beef Brisket and ready to Braise

5. Begin the braise by first heating the dutch oven, then adding your fat of choice. Sauté onions, then celery, thyme, and finally garlic. Cook until translucent before adding the carrot and sauté for 3 more minutes.

Beef Tallow for sautéing the Mirepoix

Sautéed Mirepoix in Beff Tallow and thyme

6. Lay the brisket on top of the vegetables and add the beer and beef broth. You want the liquid to come ¾ of the way up the sides of the brisket. If you’re short, just add more broth or water.

Guinness Stout Beer for Deglazing Mirepoix

Braising Corned Beef


7. Bring to a boil, skim off of the foam, then lower heat to a medium-to-low simmer. Cover and braise for 2 hours or so. You may have to lower the heat a tad if there is too much bubbling going on – just keep a watch.
8. Add potatoes and cabbage if you desire, and cook for an additional 40 minutes or so with the lid on.
9. Slice and serve once brisket has reached an internal temperature of 160°- 170° F. Plate the brisket with the potatoes and cabbage surrounding, or just the brisket by itself.

Braised Corned Beef-No Nitrates with Potatoes, Cabbage, Cabbage, and Violet Mustard


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