Thursday, September 20, 2012

Corned Beef

Easy to make at home. I use to cure the beef using a dry rub. Then, I learned how to do it in a brine.

For a 4 – 5 pound beef brisket, super trimmed. Cut off all the fat that can be cut off.
1     2 gallon ziplock bag
2     Quarts water
1     cup kosher or sea salt
½    cup brown sugar
1     cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
1     tsp mustard seeds
1     tsp black peppercorns (cracked – smash with heavy pan)
8     whole cloves (cracked)
8     whole allspice berries (cracked)
12   whole juniper berries (cracked)
2     bay leaves, crumbled
½    tsp ground ginger
2     lbs ice

So, I started with a 10 lb brisket, shown here. Remember, if you also use a 10 pounder, the other ingredients must also be doubled.

For such a large brisket, it is easy to separate the two muscles (the grains are going in different directions anyway, so, when it is cooked and slice they need to be separate anyway, so, might as well do it now) and then trim the fat off so it looks like this.

Now, here are all of those spices!

Place the water into a large (6 – 8 quart minimum) stockpot along with salt, sugar, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and add ice. Stir until ice has melted. Allow to cool completely. Then, place in refrigerator and continue to cool to 45 degrees F. (or, in winter, cover pot and place outside!) Once cooled, place brisket in ziplock bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in refrigerator at least 10 days. (2 weeks works!) Once a day, slosh the bag to be sure that the beef is completely covered and to stir up the brine.

So, with the 10 pounder of brisket, I use two bags, since I have doubled all the ingredients:

And here they are in a large ceramic bowl that goes in the refrigerator.

After 10 days (or at least 2 weeks, could be as long as 4 weeks) remove from brine and thoroughly rinse in cold water. Want to get all the brine out. Place in a container and fill with cold water and place in refrigerator overnight. 

Now comes cooking time! In addition to the cured meat, you need the following:

1     onion with four cloves stuck in it
1     large carrot, coarsely chopped
1     stalk celery, coarsely chopped
Herb bouquet: (8 sprigs of parsley, 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, 1 tsp of dried thyme or 4 tsp of fresh thyme, 3 fresh bay leaves, all wrapped up in a washed piece of cheese cloth and tied.)

Tie brisket to hold it together while cooking. Place brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat, add the onion, carrot, celery and herb bouquet and cover with water by 2 inches. Set over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 ½ hours or so until meat is fork tender. 

And it's done!

I like to serve it with steamed cabbage and some good beer.


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