Pink from its brine and often served with cabbage on St. Patrick's day, corned beef is rarely seen without its accompanying spice packet. A mysterious combination of small spheres, red flakes and interesting smells, packet specifics may differ by brand, but are typically a variation of common pickling spices.
For a homemade recipe check out: How to Make Corned Beef
So What's in There?
Most spice packets included in packaged corned beef are a combination of:
- Mustard seeds
- Black peppercorns
- Cracked bay leaf
- Crushed chilies
- Dehydrated garlic
- Cinnamon sticks
- Dill seeds
- Cloves or allspice berries
- Fennel seeds
Adding the Packet
The spice packet isn't a requirement for cooking corned beef, nor will it affect the texture or color of that pink Paddy's Day brisket that we know and love. To use it, simply scatter the contents over the top of the corned beef before you roast, slow-cook or simmer it. With dry fingers, pat the spice blend into the fattiest side of the meat, and then cook according to the directions on the package.
Don't be surprised if the spices fall off of the meat while cooking; juice and moisture from the meat and cooking liquid will lift away some of the spice rub. This won't harm the final result of your corned beef in any negative way; the meat will still be infused with the flavors.
Consider adding beer to the cooking liquid of your corned beef for added flavor.