A corned beef seasoning packet contains a mixture of whole pickling spices such as allspice, coriander, mustard seed, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, dill seed and others. Cooks can choose to purchase a corned beef spice blend or a pickling spice blend. It's also possible to make a homemade version.
Corned beef is most flavorful when pickling spices are added to the pot before cooking. Pickling spice is often provided for free with the purchase of brisket or other common corned beef cuts. Be aware that some beef is sold with spices already added. This can be tested by cooking a small portion of the beef. To accompany the pickling spices, add garlic or beer to further enhance the meat's flavor. Some cooks like to add fresh vegetables like celery, onions and carrots to the pot, which boil alongside the beef, making a nice side dish.
Choose a quality cut of beef with flat or round point cuts for the best flavor. Round point cuts indicate beef with more fat marbling. Marbled beef produces juicier slices that are packed with flavor. Leaner flat cuts of beef have less fat and are easier to slice into portions. Corned beef requires slow cooking. Recipes typically recommend cooking the beef for 50 minutes per pound.