Traditional Irish "Corned" Beef

This is the original corned beef. "Corned" is a English term for small bits and in this recipe the small bits are the Salt. It was posted in 1968 in the "Irish Times" to show the care Irish take with corned beef in order to be avoid being confused with English Corned beef, it is call "Spiced Beef". It was served with cabbage for Christmas, Easter, and St. Patrick's day. 

A few weeks ago I went to the farmer's market with a plan to stock up on some meat. Although the market was closed due to snow, Maria from Meadowsweet Farm was in the parking lot getting ready to leave. I quickly scurried out of the car and asked if I could do some car truck meat shopping. She obliged and we chatted a bit in the snow while checking out what was in the coolers. She was shuffling through the various cuts when the large brisket caught the corner of my eye. I immediately thought of this recipe which was originally sent to me by my good friend Joshua of Vermont PepperWorks. Once thawed, I gathered my sea salt and spices and got to work on this recipe which would take a week to complete. 

As with most recipes I find, I made a few variations before setting the beef out to marinate for a week in my basement. The final product, pictured below was very flavorful and had a major umami quality to it. When you get ready to cook the brisket, be mindful to give the flesh a good rinse, or some may find the meat a bit too salty. 

Irish "Corned" Beef - Spiced Beef


The following are the ingredients for spicing a six-pound joint.

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 t cloves
  • 6 blades mace
  • 1 level t peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic (added a few extra cloves)
  • 1 t allspice
  • 2 heaped T brown sugar (I used honey)
  • 2 heaped t Salt peter (omitted)
  • 1 pound of salt (I used 1/2 pound sea salt)

For cooking the meat you will need:

  • 1 six pound lean joint of beef
  • 3 sliced carrots (added onions + turnips)
  • 1/2 pint guinness ( I used a local brew)
  • a bunch of mixed herbs
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1 t ground allspice

Rub all the dry ingredients together, then pound in the bay leaves and garlic. Stand the meat in a large earthenware or glass dish and rub the spicing mixture thoroughly all over it. This should be done every day for a week, taking the spicing mixture from the bottom of the dish and turning the meat twice. Then wash the meat, and tie it into a convenient shape for cooking.

Sprinkle over about 1 t each of mixed allspice and ground cloves, then put it into a large saucepan on a bed of the chopped vegetables. Barely cover with warm water, put the lid on and simmer gently for five hours. During the last hour add the guinness.  

"It could be eaten hot or cold, but at Christmas it is usually served cold, in slices. If wanted cold, the meat should be removed from the liquid and pressed between two dishes with a weight on top."  –Theodore Fitsgibbon, A Taste of Ireland, 1968

Have you ever made traditional Corned Beef? Will you be trying out this recipe?