For a classic St. Patrick's Day dinner, serve the corned beef with mashed potatoes and buttered cabbage. The thickness of your cut of beef will determine how long it needs to stay in the brine: A fat whole top round roast will take up to 2 weeks, but a relatively thin brisket will take only 4 days.
Brine the beef:
In a large, lidded pot, bring 4-1/2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and sugar and bring back to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan until almost smoking and throw in the coriander, juniper, peppecorns, allspice, cloves and cardamom. Take off the heat and let the spices toast, shaking the pan a few times so they toast evenly. Tie the spices in a piece of cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel, then drop into the boiling water. Keep the water boiling for 15 minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar and make the liquid very salty. Then remove from the heat, pour in 6 cups ice-cold water, and let cool.
Add the meat and bay leaves to the brine, making sure the meat is completely immersed, and cover tightly. Refrigerate, turning the meat every so often, until the meat is fully cured, about 4 days for brisket or up to 2 weeks for a whole top round roast.
Cook the beef:
When you're ready to serve the beef, remove it from its brine. Put it in a large pot with the onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, and parsely stems. Add enough water to cover and bring to a rolling simmer. Cook for 2 hours, adding more water if needed to keep the beef submerged. Drain the corned beef, and slice across the grain.
Photo: Jason Lowe