Monday, March 18, 2013

How To Corn Your Own Beef (No Salt Peter)

Last night was lovely and made me giddy proud because we ... wait for it ... CORNED OUR OWN BEEF THIS WEEK.

Now - after you see what that involves, you won't be so impressed, because it was easy peasy.  While it was cooking last night, the house smelled like the most mouthwateringly wonderful deli you ever visited in your deli-dreams.  SO good. So doing this again.

How to Corn Your Own Beef without Salt Peter

(yep - corned beef is usually made with potassium nitrate - saltpeter, as in 'makes gun powder'.  It's why you don't want to eat too many standard cured foods, because they have adverse health consequences if eaten in large quantities.  And, it turns out, it isn't necessary if you do this at home.  The potassium nitrate is what gives comercial corned beef its bright red appearance, so don't expect it to take on that color.)

1 grass-fed beef brisket, about 2 1/2 pounds.  Much easier to work with if you cut this into halves.

In a medium pot, combine:

1 cup water
2 T whole peppercorns, cracked
2 T pickling spice (I used Spice House's pickling spice)
1 T juniper berries, cracked
1 T coriander seeds
8 bay leaves
1 T. dried thyme (or a few sprigs fresh)
4 cloves garlic, minced

Bring to a boil, then lower and let steep for about 5 minutes.   Turn into a large glass bowl and let cool a few more minutes.  Add:

6 cups water
3/4 cups sea salt
1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, or rapadura

Stir until the salt and sugar have melted.

Now you can do one of two things (we did #2 because we didn't have a large baggie handy):

1 - Put the brisket into a 2 gallon ziplock bag, add the brine and a few ice cubes (to rapidly cool down the brine).   Seal it up, put it in a bowl, and refrigerate.  Twice a day for the next three days, flip the bag over.

2 - Toss a few ice cubes into the brine in the bowl to cool it down.  Add  the brisket and weight it down with a small plate to keep the meat in the brine.  Cover the bowl and store in the refrigertor.  Twice a day, take it out, and flip the meat, weight it down again and put it back in the fridge.

The 2nd method is more labor intensive over the next few days, but I'm not even sure how you'd get that brine from bowl to baggie without a disastrous mess, so maybe it evens out!

Once it's brined for at least three days, you're ready to cook it!

To prepare the corned beef to cook:  remove the beef and set aside.  Dump the brine.  Then rinse the meat so it isn't too salty (don't worry so much about stuck on bits of seasonings).

Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 corned beef brisket, about 2 1/2 lbs
2 T pickling spice in a muslin bag
1 head cabbage - shredded, chopped or quartered as desired

Put corned beef into a pot, add water to cover, and tuck in a muslin bag of pickling spice.  Heat to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 3 hours.  Your house is going to smell amazing.

Remove beef from water and set aside without cutting.  Put the cabbage in the cooking water and simmer about 20-30 minutes, until tender.

Serve in a bowl - some cabbage, a few slices of corned beef, and a bit of broth.  Heavenly!

1 comment:

  1. wow this isn't hard - I had no idea you can corn your own beef - I want to try it!