Writing this post has made me crave a corned beef sandwich all over again! Curing your own brisket is super easy and it will take your corned beef sandwich to a whole another level! The meat is so tender, melt-in-your-mouth tender mind you, and flavorful that you’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff.
This corned beef sandwich is a real treat and combines salty and sweet in a perfect way! The sweet onion chutney and pickles make up for the salty cured meat and the melted nutty cheese ties it all together. This is one special sandwich, it will warm you up and feed your soul and who doesn’t need a little bit of comfort food right now?
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
I love this corned beef sandwich but don’t hesitate to make it your own. Use a different cheese, spread the buns with something creamier, make a reuben sandwich, do whatever makes you (and your stomach) happy. Do have a go at making your own corned beef though, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Don’t be put off by how long it takes to cure the meat, the process is actually quite easy! Once the brisket is covered in brine you can just forget about it. You’ll only have to turn it once or twice then rinse it and let it simmer away in plenty of water for 4h. It’s super simple and well worth the effort if you love corned beef. I much prefer curing cuts of beef in brine rather than using the dry cure method (like used for this salt beef). Curing in brine results in more flavorful and tender finished products in my opinion.
PINK CURING SALT
Curing salt is essential if you want to keep your brisket in the brine for more than 5 days and if you want the corned beef to have its distinctive pink color. Curing salt (or Prague Powder #1) contains sodium nitrite and table salt. It’s mostly used for meats that only need to be cured for some days and that will be eaten quickly.
Curing salt may also be called pink salt because of its pink color. Red dye is usually added to curing salt to prevent people from confusing it with table salt and accidentally use it. Himalayan salt is not a nitrite-curing salt and should not be used to cure meat. It simply gets its color from mineral impurities and it won’t be useful to prevent the growth of bacteria.
I found the curing salt I used online but you could also buy it from a butcher or a shop. You could make this recipe without curing salt but your corned beef will turn out brown and you should definitely stick to a shorter curing time (and check the brisket’s sell-by-date).
Corned beef is usually made from beef brisket. Pick a small well-marbled one for best results! The brisket shouldn’t be too lean as the fat will add so much flavor to the corned beef. You can always trim it after having cooked the brisket. The meltingly tender tasty layers of fat is what I enjoy the most in a slice of corned beef though.
Disclaimer: As you can notice in the photos I didn’t use a brisket to make this corned beef recipe. Simply because it’s an impossible cut to find in France. Apparently, the only place where you could buy some is from a kosher butcher. I was way too lazy to go track one down, and being an introvert, I was more than happy to avoid any social interaction. So I used beef shin instead and it worked fine. It was a small cut, just enough to make 3 sandwiches. If you use a bigger cut than 1.3 pounds, you’ll have to proportionally increase the amount of brine, spices, and curing salt.
Make sure that your brisket is entirely covered at all times when it’s curing or cooking. Pick a well-marbled brisket for the best results. I have used this recipe as a base to learn how to prepare corned beef at home. I have made some adjustments regarding the spices and how much salt I actually put in the brine. Feel free to do your own thing too but double-check what’s written on your curing salt package so as not to put too much or too little in the brine.
FREEZING AND LEFTOVERS
➝ Can you freeze corned beef? You can freeze cooked corned beef by wrapping it tightly in cling film or aluminum foil and then placing it in an airtight container or a freezer bag (more save-spacing). You can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months so don’t forget to label it. Simply defrost overnight in the fridge when you’ll be planning to eat it. I haven’t personally tried it but you could freeze uncooked corned beef after it has been cured. Discard the brine, wrap tightly, place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
➝ I have leftover corned beef, what can I do with it? I’ll be honest, corned beef and cabbage, it’s just not my jam. I grew up in the Caribbean and cabbage (and most winter veggies) is just not something I got used to and look forward to eating. If you have leftovers I get it if you don’t feel like eating another corned beef sandwich! So maybe you could try corned beef hash, Reuben stuffed potato skins, or a corned beef cottage pie.
I started researching corned beef when I saw that Ron’s corned beef sandwich was next on my list of recipes to recreate from the Philosopher’s Stone. Prior to looking it up online, I always thought that anything with corned beef was bound to be made with canned corned beef. Corned beef is non-existent in French culture so all I could picture was an overly processed, bland and mushy army ration.
I had no idea that it could also refer to delicious slices of and tender cured brisket but what a relief! Because 1) I had no idea how I could get cans of the stuff in France and 2) it wasn’t looking very appetizing to me. And if you’re going to make and eat something over and over again while test a recipe, it should at least appeal to you a little bit. Granted I never had canned corned beef and maybe it’s great! I don’t know if Molly made her own corned beef or she just opened a can but I’m sure Ron wouldn’t have cast aside this corned beef sandwich because it’s so good!
Are you looking for other sandwich recipes? Here are some of my favorites:
- Kaşarlı tost (Turkish grilled cheese sandwich)
- Fried chicken burger
- Çiğ köfte dürüm (Wrap with spicy bulgur patties)
This corned beef sandwich is a special treat that will warm you up and feed your soul! The sweet onion chutney and pickles bring out the salty cured meat, and the melted cheese ties it all together in the most indulgent way. And if you don’t feel like curing meat, just buy some!
For the pickling spices:
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp all spice berries
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
For the brine and beef brisket:
- 1 liter water (1 ¼ cup)
- 120g coarse salt (½ cup)
- 18g curing salt (2 tsp)
- 25g caster sugar (2 tbsp)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 600g small beef brisket (1.3 pounds), or use beef shin
For the sandwiches:
- 300g sliced raclette cheese (10.5 oz) , or use fontina
- 3 tbsp onion chutney or relish
- 3 big pickles, sliced
- 3 sandwich buns
To make the corned beef:
- Toast the peppercorns and mustard seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, about 3 min. If you hear the mustard seeds popping, it’s time to take the skillet off the heat.
- Scrape into a small food processor with the rest of the pickling spices and blitz until ground into a powder. You could also use a mortar and pestle or a blender.
- Place the water, salts, sugar, garlic cloves and half of the pickling spice you just made into a pot that’s roughly the same size as the brisket. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring from time to time. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the salts and sugar have completely dissolved.
- Take the pot off the heat and let the brine cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, put the brisket in the pot and weight it down with a small plate to make sure it’ll stay entirely covered.
- Place the pot in the refrigerator and keep it there for 5 to 10 days. Flip the brisket every other day. Then remove the brisket from the brine (discard the brine) and rinse it well under cold water.
- Wash the pot thoroughly and put the brisket back inside. Add the rest of the pickling spices and enough water to cover the brisket amply. Bring to a boil over high heat then lower the heat, cover the pot and gently simmer for 4h or until the corned beef is fork-tender. Make sure that there is always enough water in the pot to cover the meat.
- Remove the corned beef from the pot and discard the cooking liquid. Slice!
To make the corned beef sandwiches:
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Split the buns in half and place them, cut side up on the sheet.
- Top the bottom halves of the buns with an equal amount of corned beef. Place the sliced cheese on top.
- Bake for 6 min or until the cheese is completely melted and the buns are golden. Remove from the oven, add the pickles and spread the onion chutney on the top buns. Place the top buns on top of the sandwiches and enjoy.
You can keep the cooked corned beef in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Use buns that aren’t too fluffy and airy as they might not ‘hold their own’ against slices and slices of corned beef and melted cheese.
If you buy curing salt in France it might be white (not pink).
- Serving Size: 1 sandwich
- Calories: 859
- Fat: 45.8g
Keywords: cured beef, harry potter recipes, sandwiches, sandwiches for dinner