I used Prague Powder to make corned beef


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/15/i-used-prague-powder-to-make-c.html


Pink curing salts are handy for making bacon too.


Too much nitrite is dangerous- you might want to consult this nitrite calculator when dry or wet brining https://genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/nitritecuringcalculator.html


people who like curing their own corned beef also liked other home charcuterie. Ruhlman has a fantastic book about this: https://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Salting-Smoking-Revised-Updated/dp/0393240053. Nothing like homemade slab bacon, pancetta, etc. It feels a little weird hanging a wrapped up round of pork belly in the closet for a couple weeks, but you’ll get over it.


Big Bag O’ Nitrates? Enjoy your colon cancer!


The standard ATK recipe isn’t too bad:
¾ cup salt
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pink curing kosher salt No. 1
6 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
6 bay leaves, divided
5 allspice berries
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, divided
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

I will say when I do home cured I use that sans garlic and add mace into it.

Suggestion: braise the corn beef in a good milk stout instead of water. Then put some additional stout on the stove top with brown sugar, mace, clove, peppercorns, and coriander and a bay leaf to reduce (no salt…you don’t need any at all).

Once the CB is done braised, take it and transfer to a baking dish and then glaze it with the stout reduction from the stove top in a very hot oven.

You will not be disappointed.


Next step, coat it with:
4 tablespoons fresh coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
wrap in shrink wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Smoke @ 225 until internal temp reaches 160
Place in steamer until internal temp reaches 203
Now you have pastrami. The thing that corned beef aspires to be.

You can find the full recipe and instructions here. I’ve tried a lot of pastrami methods, and this is as good as I’ve found


I can vouch for Kenji’s (basically) dry cured recipe.

Much better texture and flavor than any recipe I tried based on a brine.

And the thing I’ve learned doing this for years and years is a longer cure is better. Tend to do my for a month to a month and a half. Sometimes two.


Get the proportions wrong and you end up with Nitrobeef, an unstable high explosive. It was used extensively in the California gold rush, but it’s just too dangerous for civilian use.


Am I the only one who read the title as “Plague Powder”?


I’m more of a Morton’s Tender Quick type of guy. A simple pickling spice and Tender Quick dry rub, vacuum seal it, and then flip it over ever other day in the fridge for about 2-weeks. Very yummy. Don’t let the seasoning from the pickling spice get too far into the brisket or else it’s going to end up like eating pieces of potpourri in your corned beef.


I cured a smoked pastrami with Prague Powder for the first time, to discover that my standard thermometer does not work properly at the higher temperature required. Overdone, dammit. Just bought a proper device.


Corned beef and cabbage give me the wind something wicked fierce.


It’s absolutely true that eating pink salt, straight, is toxic.

But a teaspoon or so in a big batch of meat to cure it is not something I’m really concerned about.


Read the Guardian article I linked (yes I know it’s long) then come back and we’ll talk.


Tenderquick is just less concentrated on the nitrites/ates and contains sugar.

Which just means less control of salt and sugar levels. And I like control. Actually use saltpetre for a long time for that reason. Got stuck unable to find it for a bit and ended up using the prague powder. Didn’t notice a material different from the saltpetre. So I’ll stick with it because it’s easier to find.

But like premixed cures. So the tenderquick doesn’t do much for me.

That’s the cabbage. Try red cabbage it doesn’t have the compounds that make you boot.

I’ve been using brussel sprouts.


To be clear; Prague Power is mostly just good Ole’ salt and about ~6% sodium nitrite. Morten’s tender quick contains salt, sugar, nitrites and Nitrates, which it converts to nitrites over time allowing for a longer cure (Pink salt #2 also contains nitrates for the same reason). Prague power is what you should use for something like bacon (or corned beef) because of the shorter curing time, you really want all Ni’s to convert to nitric oxide by the time it goes into your gullet.

Also; I recommend corning a pork shoulder.



Better stop eating celery then. Spinach salad would be off the menu too. In fact, 93% of the sodium nitrite (the pink curing salt) we consume comes from vegetables like lettuce, spinach, celery, cabbage, and beets. A spinach salad has as much sodium nitrate as a cured ham sandwich.


Roger That!