Give yourself about two weeks before the big day to allow your brisket enough time to properly brine and rinse. Once it's done, you can store it in the fridge for a week or two. After all, it's already been cured. This corned beef recipe was so easy, you probably couldn't screw it up if you tried. Why settle for the crappy store-bought corned beef and cabbage when you can make something tastier and more natural at home?
Put all the ingredients for the brine into a large saucepan and stir well over low heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Bring to a boil, allow to bubble for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.
Corn the Beef:
Place your chosen piece of beef in a nonmetallic container, such as a large Tupperware box or a clay crock. Cover the meat completely with the cold brine, weighting it down if necessary with a piece of wood (I used a big rock in a sealed Tupperware container). Leave in a cool place (a place under 40°F, such as the refrigerator) for 5 to 7 days. You standard 4-5 pound brisket should be just fine with 5 days in the drink, and joints of less than 6 pounds should not be left for more than a week or they will become too pickled.
Before cooking, remove the beef from the brine and soak it in fresh cold water for 24 hours, changing the water at least once. You could make that 36 hours if it had the full 7-day immersion.
Cook the Beef:
Tie the branches of rosemary, sage, parsley, and thyme together with a piece of butcher's twine. This is your bouquet garni.
Put the beef in a pan with the bouquet garni, vegetables, and garlic. Cover with fresh water and bring to a gentle simmer. Poach very gently on top of the stove—or in a very low oven 275°F (135°C) if you prefer. A 6 pound piece of beef will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Cook until the meat is completely tender and yielding when pierced with a skewer.
Serve hot corned beef carved into fairly thick slices, with lentils, beans, horseradish mash, or boiled potatoes, and either creamed fresh horseradish or good English mustard.
Nutritional analysis does not include the brining process.