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Combine all of the pickling spice ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container.
Make the brine by putting all of the brine ingredients, except the brisket and ice cubes, into a pot and bring to a boil. Once it boils, take it off the heat and let it cool completely.
Put the brisket, brine, and ice cubes into a brining vessel, and keep it in the refrigerator or on ice for 5-7 days.
Once brining is finished, take the brisket out and rinse well with cold running water.
Put the brisket in a large pot with water to cover, the halved onion, 2 Tbsp pickling spice, and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 3-4 hours, adding the optional quartered cabbage during the last hour, until tender.