Saturday, October 22, 2011

Corned Beef

Aaron is a library volunteer and as such, he comes home with a variety of books. Not too long ago Lobel’s Meat Bible began to live at our house. After drooling over a number of recipes, Aaron decided it was high time he corned his own beef. There was a beef brisket sitting in our freezer from the farmers market that just needed that extra love. He went down to Sheridan’s and talked to the meat guys and got some great curing salt. And then it was off to making the beef. We had a little over a 2 pound brisket, so Aaron halved the recipe below. It managed to be done in perfect time for Kirsten to come over and have some. I like surprising my friends with food.

Corned Beef from Lobel’s Meat Bible:

Serves 8-10

1½ c. kosher salt
½ c. brown sugar
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 recipe corned beef pickling spice (recipe follows)
1 oz. pink curing salt
5 lb. fatty beef brisket
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

Corned Beef Pickling Spice

Makes about 1/3 c.

¾ tsp. mustard seed
¾ tsp. coriander seed
½ tsp. fresh, coarsely cracked black pepper
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground ginger
18 allspice berries
10 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods, cracked
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 1½” long cinnamon stick, cracked into small pieces
Combine all ingredients and store tightly until use.

Put the kosher salt, sugar, garlic, thyme, pickling spice, and 1 quart water in a 6 to 8 quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep for 5 minutes. Stir in the curing salt to dissolve, add 3 quarts of cool water, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
Put the brisket in a lidded, high-sided, food-grade plastic or metal container just large enough to contain the meat. Pour in the cooled curing liquid to cover the meat, weighting it with small plates, if necessary, to keep the beef submerged beneath the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 5 days, turn the meat over after 2 to 3 days.
Remove the meat from the liquid and place in a pot large enough to just contain it (reserve the curing liquid for now). Rinse the meat in two or three changes of water and drain. Strain the herbs, spices, and garlic from the curing liquid and discard the liquid. Add the spice to the pot with the meat and cover by 2 inches of water. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and bring to just a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain the barest possible simmer, and cook until very tender but not yet falling apart (a carving fork should slide easily into the meat), 3 to 4 hours.
Carefully transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, slice thinly across the grain. Serve each portion moistened with a few tablespoons of the cooking  liquid (reserve enough cooking liquid to reheat any remaining beef).

But we didn’t just eat this. Oh no. We made reubens. Coming up tomorrow? The rye needed for that special sandwich. Later this week I’ll post the sandwich recipe. They are so good that Aaron recently bought another 3 pound brisket and we had reubens again. And then corned beef hash. And then something else we’re making today that I’ll post soon.

If you’re interested in doing something very homemade, this recipe is well worth it. It tastes so much better than the stuff you buy at the store.

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