March 03, 2015
St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner but there is still time to try your hand at making authentic corned beef for the holiday.
Corned beef is a preparation in which a cut of beef, traditionally the brisket, is cured in a brine solution along with various seasonings, and then slowly simmered until it's tender and flavorful. Although the exact beginnings of corned beef are unknown, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Corned beef remains popular in the United Kingdom and countries with British culinary traditions. Contrary to popular belief, corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish, but originates as part of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Irish-American culture.
The Organic Butcher carries pickling spices for your convenience but you can also make your own. The following is a recipe from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing for both the spice mix and home curing.
PICKLING SPICE2 tbsp black peppercorns2 tbsp mustard seeds2 tbsp coriander seeds2 tbsp hot red pepper flakes2 tbsp allspice berries1 tbsp ground mace2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces2 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled2 tbsp whole cloves1 tbsp ground ginger
Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.
Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.
For our pre-made corned beef, we typically brine cure our brisket for 7-10 days flipping the meat every day or so.
HOME-CURED CORNED BEEF1-1/2 cups kosher salt½ cup sugar4 teaspoons pink salt or Instacure #1 (sodium nitrite), optional3 cloves garlic, minced4 tablespoons pickling spice1 4-5-pound first cut brisket1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two1 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 with cold water. Add the cured brisket to a baking pan with beef broth and beer if you choose to add beer. We prefer Nitro Milk Stout for this step!Throw a couple carrots or celery in there and braise at 350 degrees for 3 hours or until fork tender. Check halfway through to make sure you have enough liquid and add more if needed. Remove and let rest in the broth check seasoning for salt and pepper.Slice and enjoy!
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.
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