Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Corned Beef Brisket

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
Scallions, chopped

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.

Corny beef.


  1. rubenesque indeed - you are too funny. the briskets i'm familiar with are meats endlessly cooked - to the point of total fork tenderness, i can well imagine nigella putting the brisket away...
    your version looks delectable, i love meat, i will pursue and report...

  2. oh my god julia! Your corned beef if frickin' gorgeous!!! I love it! I stayed pink-salt-less and used celery powder and it tasted awesome but looked pretty much like roast beef.
    I'm with you on boiled cabbage- ew. Kraut- yes! I made cream braised cabbage and it was absolutely outstanding. I want to eat it every day.
    Anyhow, nice job! Looks gorgeous. Oh, and I kinda run the other way from any kind of parade =)

  3. Try some cumin on the cabbage. It may change your mind about cabbage forever.

    I'm very jealous; my brisket is still brining away... I've only just cooked the first of my bacon meals. I would have liked some lovely pink corned beef like yours for St. Patrick's Day.

  4. I grew up outside of Boston, so even if you're not Irish, you're Irish. Turns out two of my grandparents were "off the boat" Irish: County Cork & Dublin. Yes, many a traditional boiled dinner did I suffer through as a child (I am with you on boiled cabbage. Blech.) And though it has been more than two decades since I ate beef, I still remember corned beef fondly; mostly because of the salty, salty goodness. I think I came out of the womb a saltaholic. Yours looks amazing - enough to make this non beef-eater think about it again.

  5. Michael - Always good to hear from you! Looking forward to what you will do, as always.

    Meg - Thanks! Your hash rules, though! And can we talk about that cream braised cabbage? That sounds really, really good.

    Sarah - Hmmm. I will if you say so! We actually ate this about two weeks ago now. Like I said, I'm impatient!

    Kaela - Thank you! That's quite the compliment. You know, I don't think I'll do it again, unless Steve demands it. Which he will. It's a special treat, you know?

  6. Looks beautiful! Next time don't put your cabbage in until the last 20 to 30 minutes. You'll like it a lot more!

  7. Night one, my husband served it with the boiled to death cabbage and carrots... my son was kind of ho humm... a few nights later, i did it again with just basic boiled sliced potatoes and carrots(soft but kind of al dente) and sauteed then up with the cabbage (still a bit crunchy)... and after boyscouts.. he asked for a second helping as "dessert"...lol...

  8. hello julia,


    this might be an interesting, if general notion on improving one's larder. then again it could also be a very old hat.

  9. I'm usually not a corned beef gal myself, but your beef looks gorgeous. And I'm not entirely opposed to corning a big hunk of beef just to have some delicious corned beef hash. Thanks for posting this!

  10. That looks amazing, Julia. So, if you think 2 cups of the curing stuff was too much, how much would you use next time?

  11. Jane - Ah, yes, that makes great sense!

    SapperAngel - Wow! That's amazing! I gotta try that...

    Michael - Thanks for thinking of me! I did note that. I liked it, but found their notebook a little lacking of info. Still, it's in the right direction.

    Leena - Thank you! The corned beef hash was really and truly worth it.

    Doris - If you go to the link for the Garden Web Forum, those were the amounts I used.

  12. Speaking of cabbage, I made this last night: http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/2010/03/recipe-for-roasted-cabbage-with-lemon.html

    REALLY good. (Especially the crispy bits.)

  13. Eva - Looks beautiful! Thanks for stopping in!

  14. Julia, your photos make me both hungry and happy. Thank you for playing along. xoCathy

  15. Cathy - you are too kind!! Thank you so for coming by! xoj

  16. Wow!! looking delicious to me.I would definitely try this at my home.
    Beef brisket recipes