At its core, corned beef requires only a basic salt brine. However, many recipes incorporate other seasonings for a complex brine. For instance, Alton Brown's corned beef recipe utilizes a brine that includes juniper berries, bay leaves, allspice berries, whole cloves and ground ginger.
The Alton Brown recipe also includes brown sugar, kosher salt, saltpeter and whole cinnamon sticks. Other seasonings include peppercorns and mustard seeds. After parboiling the brine just until the salt and brown sugar dissolve, remove it from the heat and add ice. Refrigerate the brine until the temperature lowers to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cool enough to be out of the food safety "danger zone."
Put a raw beef brisket into a 2-gallon Ziploc bag, fill the bag the rest of the way with brine and seal it. Refrigerate the bag for at least 10 days, checking it regularly to ensure that the beef is completely covered with brine and lying flat. After 10 days have passed, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it in cold water.
Place the meat into a pot with carrots, onions and celery, and cover it with enough water to submerge the brisket by at least an inch. Bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours. Slice the brisket thinly and serve.