Recipe: Modernist Corned Beef

This recipe takes what I learned with modernist pastrami and applies it to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s sous-vide corned beef technique.

The challenge I’d previously faced with streamlining a sous-vide corned beef recipe was the brining time, so I’d asked Kenji if I could vacuum-pack before brining and then cook in the bag:

I then assumed that his critique assumed that the dry brine contained more salt than would be palatable. With Greg Blonder’s precision brining approach, you rub with the total amount of salt you want in the meat. Problem potentially solved: I can salt-rub the meat, vacuum-pack it with pickling spices, and cook in the same bag immediately after curing.

Note: Below, I’ve converted Greg’s salt measurements and Kenji’s spice measurements into grams, for easier multiplication with differently-sized meats. Use Prague Powder in a ratio of 1 gram per pound, and salt in a ratio of 0.5 gram per pound.

  1. Combine Prague Powder and salt. Using 1/4 tsp. increments, sprinkle over the brisket (about 3 increments per side) and rub in thoroughly. Place rubbed brisket in vacuum bag.
  2. Combine remaining spices and pour into vacuum bag, distributing evenly around brisket.
  3. Vacuum-seal the brisket. Place in refrigerator and cure 24-48 hours.
  4. With immersion circulator in an ample basin, heat water to 149°F / 65°C.
  5. Place cured brisket in water bath. Cook for 48 hours.
  6. Serve or chill.