Corned Beef Step-by-Step Tutorial


Corned beef is one of those foods that has gotten marginalized due to its association with Saint Patrick’s Day. For many people, the only time they eat corned beef is in March. And that is a shame, as corned beef is a truly great meat, in my opinion. Of course, if you live in a city with a really good Jewish Deli, such as Katz’s in New York or Langer’s in Los Angeles, then you can get an excellent corned beef sandwich year round.

But I am referring to making corned beef at home, which is near impossible because supermarkets only bring out the packaged corned beef right before Saint Patrick’s Day in March. What to do? Follow this Step-by-Step Corned Beef Tutorial and you can make it anytime you want.

I first made my own corned beef five years ago, and have been doing it ever since. It is such a simple process, although it takes time. Most of that time is just waiting for the meat to cure, so it is painless. Unless you are an impatient person.

Corned Beef

The photo above is of my first corned beef I ever made. It was so delicious and so unlike the packaged corned beef I had always made. For one thing, I didn’t trim the fat, which gave the corned beef and cooking broth much more flavor. Once your broth is cooled overnight you just remove any solidified fat from the surface and throw it away. The flavor remains, and you can cut the fat from the slices before you eat them.

The main component of a good corned beef is a good piece of brisket, usually the first cut. The first cut brisket is the flatter piece. If you are unsure, ask your butcher to get one for you.

The next component is your pickling spice.  This pickling spice recipe is an all purpose pickling spice. Store it in a jar as you would any spice blend, and when you want corned beef or quick pickles, you have a fresh pickling spice on hand.

Pickling Spice
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Total time
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Mix the spices together and seal in an airtight container to store.


The next component is a brine to cure your corned beef. The brisket needs to stay submerged in the brine for a minimum of one week to let the meat cure.

Corned Beef Brine
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Total time
Serves: 1 corned beef
  • 7-8 cups water (depending on size of brisket)
  • 1 bottle dark ale
  • 1½ cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • ¼ cup pickling spice
  • 1½ tablespoons pink curing salt
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp Tellicherry peppercorns
  1. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Place your brisket into a large pot.
  3. Pour the brine over the meat.
  4. Be sure the brisket is submerged. If needed place a plate directly onto the brisket to weight it down.
  5. Cover the pot and place into the refrigerator for one week.


Once the brisket has been brined and become a corned beef, all that is left is cooking. Remove the brisket from the brine, rinse it well to remove the spices and extra salt. Place your brisket into a large pot, pour in a bottle of ale or stout, the fill the pot with water so it covers the brisket by at least an inch.  Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook the brisket for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.

If you want to make a traditional boiled dinner, add potatoes, cabbage wedges and carrots to the cooking liquid once the corned beef is done. Slice the corned beef and return it to the pot with the cooked vegetables.

Or you can slice the corned beef for sandwiches, salads, hash or whatever comes to mind.

Red Cooked Oxtails

Red Cooked Oxtails

I have never tasting anything I did not like if it has been prepared in a red cooking sauce. Whatever protein type you braise in this flavorful liquid comes out moist and tender. Red cooking is a Chinese technique of braising meat in a soy based liquid with sweet and savory spices added.  The long, slow simmering in the spiced liquid produces a rich, tender meat.

Last year I red cooked a piece of pork belly, and it literally melted in your mouth when you took a bite.

Red Cooked Pork Belly | Black Girl Chef's Whites

After braising the pork I cooled the braising liquid, removed the now solid fat from the surface and froze it for future use.

The future is here.

Red Cooked Oxtails

Red Cooked Oxtails
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 cup dark soy
  • 1 cup light soy
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Five Spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 4 pounds beef oxtails
  1. In a large pot over medium high heat combine all the ingredients except for the oxtails.
  2. Bring the red cooking sauce to a boil, cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the oxtails, cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook the oxtails for about 3 hours, until very tender.
  5. Remove the oxtails from the red cooking liquid and serve.


Red Cooked Oxtails

Slow Cooker Beef Cheek Ragu with Orecchiette

Slow Cooker Beef Cheek Ragu with Orecchiette

Beef cheek? What the heck is a beef cheek?

It is exactly what it sounds like. The cheek of a cow. When I think of cows, I tend to picture them chewing their cud in a grassy field. And the muscles the cow needs to chew are in the jaws and cheek. Those muscles work hard everyday, meaning they are tough and lean. That is a very good thing, because the tougher cuts of meat are also the most flavorful. But, if they are not cooked correctly, they become a not very good thing.  Tough cuts of meat need to be cooked low and slow. That means low temperature for a very long time.

Beef cheeks are not something you find in your everyday supermarket, unless you live near a good Hispanic or Asian market. Go to a butcher store, or ask the meat department in your supermarket if they can order them for you.  If beef cheeks are nowhere to be found, this recipe would work well with beef shanks or short ribs. You will have to adjust the cooking time.

Slow Cooker Beef Cheek Ragu with Orecchiette

Slow Cooker Beef Cheek Ragu with Orecchiette
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Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 pound beef cheek, excess fat trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can water
  • 8 ounces orecchitte
  1. Place the onions, thyme, rosemary, oregano and .garlic into a large slow cooker.
  2. Season the beef cheek with salt and red pepper, place on top of the vegetables.
  3. Pour the can of tomatoes onto the beef.
  4. Using clean hands, crush the tomatoes to release their juices.
  5. Fill the tomato can with water and pour into the slow cooker.
  6. Set the slow cooker to high.
  7. Cook for 6 - 6½ hours, until the meat is very tender.
  8. Remove the cheek from the slow cooker and shred the meat.
  9. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce, removing any herb stems in the sauce.
  10. Return the meat to the sauce.
  11. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
  12. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  13. Serve the ragu over the cooked pasta.


Slow Cooker Beef Cheek Ragu with Orecchiette

Braised Lamb Shanks with Kabocha Squash

Braised Lamb Shanks and Kabocha Squash | Black Girl Chef's Whites


This goes into the “Big Bowl of Comfort” category. Braised Lamb Shanks with Kabocha Squash melts in your mouth, warms your belly and fills you with a sense of well being and love. Isn’t that what comfort food is supposed to do?  Yes, that may be pure hyperbole, but this really is a lovely dish.

Cooking the shanks low and slow ensures that the meat literally falls off the bone when done. Marinating the shanks in warming spices and aromatics for 24 to 48 hours ensures the flavor is deep and rich.

Kabocha squash is widely available in grocery stores now. My absolute favorite winter squash, kabocha is so versatile to cook. Kabocha can be steamed, baked, roasted, stuffed, fried in tempura batter, made into soup, used in a stew. The uses are myriad, and the flavor and texture are like a cross between a potato and a pumpkin.  If you cannot find a kabocha squash, ask your produce manager to order them. You can substitute with another winter squash, such as acorn or butternut squash.


Braised Lamb Shanks and Kabocha Squash | Black Girl Chef's Whites


Braised Lamb Shanks with Kabocha Squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 lamb shanks, trimmed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz) low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds Kabocha squash, peeled cut into 1 inch cubes
  1. Place the lamb shanks into a resealable plastic bag.
  2. In a small bowl combine the onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon and Aleppo pepper.
  3. Rub the marinade into the lamb shanks, seal the bag and marinate the lamb for a minimum of 24 hours up to 48 hours.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy braising pot or Dutch oven.
  5. Remove the lamb shanks from the marinade, reserving the onions and garlic.
  6. Over medium high heat brown the lamb shanks on all sides.
  7. Remove the shanks and reserve on a plate.
  8. Add the reserved marinated onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, cook for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken broth, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  10. Return the shanks to the pot.
  11. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover the pot.
  12. Cook for 2 hours, checking the liquid level on occasion.
  13. Stir in the squash.
  14. If needed, add more water or broth to the pot to ensure the squash has enough liquid to cook.
  15. Cover the pot, cook an additional 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.


**Have your butcher trim the lamb shanks of any extra fat and silver skin.


Disclosure: Melissa’s Produce sent the Kabocha Squash for recipe development.

Caribbean Style Curry Goat

Caribbean Style Goat Curry | Black Girl Chef's Whites



There are days when I miss living in Brooklyn, NY. Being a born and bred California girl, living in New York was so different, so strange and so stimulating to all my senses.  I can vividly remember the first time I took the A train up to Harlem. A sea of various shades of brown skin, different languages from Africa, English accented by the flavors of the Caribbean, and Harlem natives with their own style.

But it was Brooklyn that stole my heart. Manhattan was too frantic and frenetic, too loud and too crowded. And where were the trees? Growing up in Pasadena there were big, beautiful trees everywhere. In fact, the centuries old oak trees in my backyard are protected by the city. No cutting them down on a whim, and you even have to use certified arborists to trim them. And I am just fine with that.

I also remember coming up the subway steps from the G train in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Ft. Greene, seeing those brownstones. And trees. Lots of trees. I found my new home.

I lived in Brooklyn for about 8 years and loved it. I loved the sights and sounds, but not always the smells. But one smell I loved was the smell of curries simmering, meat patties baking, plantains being fried. The subtle variations between the Jamaicans, the Guyanese, the Trinidadian versions of different dishes. There are very few Caribbean restaurants in the Los Angeles area, or at least that I have found. So I decided to try and recreate my own taste of the Caribbean.


Caribbean Style Goat Curry | Black Girl Chef's Whites


Caribbean Style Curry Goat
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2½ pounds goat meat
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  1. Rinse the goat meat and pat it dry.
  2. Mix the goat, garlic, curry powder, salt, thyme and allspice in a medium bowl.
  3. Marinate the meat for at least 8 hours up to 24 hours.
  4. In a large deep pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
  5. Brown the goat meat in batches and set aside.
  6. Add the onion to the pot, stirring and scraping to remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  7. Cook the onions for 3-4 minutes then add the chicken broth.
  8. Return the goat meat to the pot.
  9. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  10. Cover the pot and cook for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is tender.