Can it possibly be the third month of Charcutepalooza?? Are you following along with Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy? And Punk Domestics and Food52? It seems like everywhere I go on the internet, I've got delicious, meat-curing company. This month's challenge--brining meats--can be found here in detail. Because I already had a grass-fed, local, five pound brisket in the freezer, I was prepared. There were plans for this thing to be corned beef as soon as I got it.
It wasn't me who had the plans, by the way. My husband, who is half Irish, had made the bid. Me? If I see an St. Patrick's Day parade I run the other way. Needless to say, I don't have any memories of brisket, in any way. I'm sure my mother made it once or twice. And I've made it once or twice to appease my husband. A huge sandwich from Katz's deli in NYC or some smoked meat from Montreal's Schwartz's once every couple of years and I'd be fine. The times I've made it before I didn't realize I was making corned beef, because honestly, it didn't taste like corned beef. It tasted good, like a nice chunk of beef, a little bland, surrounded by watery cabbage. Not too exciting.
Up until now in this challenge, I've been pink salt-less. This month I decided I wanted that pinky pink salt corned beef. But then I did a weird thing. I was rushed for some reason (I'm an impatient sort) and felt like I didn't have time for ordering pink salt on line. So, I went to Agway, a local feed/garden store, forever lured by their surprisingly well-stocked preserving section, and purchased some Morton's Tender Quick, a curing salt blend. I based my Tender Quick calculations on a post on a Garden Web forum. (Btw, Garden Web forums are filled with gems. There are some obsessive people posting willy nilly on those things!) The Kitchn also had a post on corned beef with Tender Quick, but I felt that two cups of Tender Quick was too much.
What happened? I heated up my cure and spices in water in a big pot. Once it was dissolved I put it on the porch to cool, and it really smelled amazing, of peppercorns and juniper goodness. Later on that evening, after trimming the meat well, I put it into a ziploc with the brine, and it sat in the fridge for about a week. It didn't turn very pink, which I was happy with. As I cooked it off (in the largest braising pan I have) the house smelled incredible. It was done in three hours.
Once cooked, it was brightly pink, and delicious, though I will say that it was a tad dry for my liking. Steve, however, was elated. And we ate it for days. This huge slab of meat kept giving. The next day I made massive grilled corned beef sandwiches, reuben-esque, you might say. Wheat bread, muenster cheese, thick slices of corned beef, and some crazy good garlic and dill relish. Then on Sunday morning we had a huge plate of the best ever corned beef hash. Now, that was worthwhile. How can people eat that dog food they sell in cans??
The thing I hate the most about corned beef dinners is the cabbage. Something about cabbage that's been boiled for hours makes me a bit ill. I did a quick boiled salad instead, lightly pickled. Here it is:
Two parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds
One small head of cabbage, cut into bite-sized wedges
A few carrots, peeled and sliced
In boiling water, cook the root vegetables one at a time for two to three minutes, pulling them out with a slotted spoon for the next batch. Put them in a bowl as you go, and toss the scallions in at the end to wilt. Dissolve a tablespoon of sugar in a quarter of a cup of apple cider vinegar and pour over the warm veg. Let them sit and pickle a little.