For some reason corned beef has always seemed intimidating. No good reason, I just didn’t know what went into it and it seemed like a lot. It’s not. Not, anyway, if you’re willing to let meat sit in a curing brine for the better part of a week and then simmer for three hours. That’s really about it.
I started out by calling Mark at Missouri Legacy Beef. I’d had good luck with their brisket in the Roots ‘n Blues ‘n BBQ competition and with a subsequent smoking. They have ample fat and a tender, beefy chew. During the winter Mark will make deliveries – even to homes – when he’s in town making drops at some of the restaurants which carry his products. I ended up with a big, 6-lb brisket flat for about $35. You can find cheaper out there, but this meat is better and the cows get to be cows. Plus, it’s good for about 20 meals, so it’s still a pretty good deal.
Recipe and follow-up meal ideas after the jump.
Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie was, as with so many things cured, my Virgil in this endeavor. You really should own the book, but for the skinflints and dabblers out there, here’s the recipe. He also recounts the process on his blog.
Home-Cured Corned Beef
2 cups kosher salt*
½ cup sugar
4 teaspoons pink salt (sodium nitrite), optional
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons pickling spice
1 5-pound beef brisket
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped.
In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 5 days.
Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, carrot, onion and celery. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket.
Keep warm until ready to serve. Meat can be refrigerated for several days in cooking liquid. Reheat in the liquid or serve chilled. Slice thinly and serve on a sandwich or with additional vegetables simmered until tender in the cooking liquid.
*A note about the salt. Salt level not hugely critical here because it’s basically boiled and excess salt moves into cooking liquid. You can weigh out 10 ounces here if you feel better using a scale. Or you can simply make a 5% brine of however much water you need to cover (6.4 ounces per gallon). When you cook it, season the cooking liquid to the level you want your meat seasoned. Another option is wrapping the brisket in foil and cooking it in a 225 degree oven till tender.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
The result is a ton of – thankfully very versatile – meat. It’ll keep for a week. The reubens on homemade rye (pictured above) have been great. Corned beef hash is on the menu for this weekend. But looking to change things up tonight, this:
Toasted rye with corned beef, poached egg and horseradish. Not too shabby.
Thanks to the parents for the fresh horseradish, and Little Ms. SMEs for the finger.