Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the Corned Beef Chronicles

haHA! So I found the aforementioned pics. For "logistical" reasons (read: I'm too lazy to recall and writeup the recipe) I will be posting Corned Beef, but not Pickled Pork + red beans and rice. They're pretty similar, though. PLUS this gives me a chance to break the mold and create The first (edible) non-Pork Porkpile post of all time. We're making history here, folks.

Well, I'll make a long story short. I made corned beef for St. Patty's day, and took pictures with the intention of posting 'em up and sharing them with my world of followers. That didn't happen. So I'm posting it now. This is my second time brining brisket. The first time I used red beet powder as a substitute for pink salt/nitrate/salt peter. This was recommended by the hemp wearing hippy butchers at the Whole Foods meat section. Of course, these Michael Pollan followers don't think that meat should be cured with nitrates -- so instead, they mimick pink salt's red-giving properties by dying the meat with red beet powder. This turned into a gastronomic disaster that I'd really rather not relate here. The corned beef tasted ok, but wasn't nearly as red or juicy as this one. Needless to say, the lesson was re-learned that these people should be shunned in all important matters.

Before we jump right into the recipe, let's take a (another) brief tangent. I am currently reading Salt, by Mark Kurlansky. In it, he basically describes why salt is responsible for every significant cultural development for every society ever on Earth. Yeah. It's that epic. Here's an excerpt on corned beef:

"The Irish, starting in the Middle Ages, traded for salt at Le Croisic. They bought salt for herring, salmon, butter, leather curing and especially beef and pork. The salt was usually shipped to Cork or Waterford. Their salted beef, the meticulously boned and salted forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef, was valued in Europe because it did not spoil. The French shipped it from Brest and other Breton ports to their new and fabulously profitable sugar colonies of the Caribbean -- cheap, high-protein durable slave food..."

Makes it sound great, right? He goes on about corned beef for three more pages. With that contextualization, let's jump right into the recipe!


Corned Beef (Adapted from Charcuterie Ruhlman and Polcyn):
1 ~5lb beef brisket
1 gallon H2O
2 cups Kosher salt
1 ounce pink salt (not red beet powder)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Pickling spice

Pickling spice (Adapted from Charcuterie Ruhlman and Polcyn):
2 Tbsp black peppercorn
2 Tbsp mustard seed
2 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp allspice (not ground)
1 Tbsp ground mace
24 bay leaves (I used one pack)
2 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp ground ginger

1 head cabbage
1 Onion (I used pearl onions... I can't tell you why, but it was a pain in the ass)
Red potatoes
Sprig Rosemary
Sprigs thyme
Broth from Corned beef

Pickling spice:
Combine all in ziploc bag. Bam. Done.

Corned Beef:
Combine all ingredients in large pot (only 1Tbsp of pickling spice, no beef)

Simmer till sugar and salt on the bottom is dissolved
This part smells nice

Let it cool and add the brisket.
This part smells nice, too

Put in fridge for 5 days (put a plate on it to make sure it is submerged in the brine)

Remove and rinse
Cover in water (new water), add 1Tbsp Pickling salt and bring to a boil
Reduce to gentle simmer, cook for 2.5 hours, replenishing H2O as necessary
This is not my pot

Remove the brisket
Stick a fork in to ensure tenderness
I think it's dead. I also scraped/was forced to scrape that fat off the top

Notice the artful arrangement of bottle and fork

Slice more -- it should be pretty easy to cut since the brine/boil will make things nice and tender
Couldn't work the bottle into this shot...

Arrange in psedo-artistic fashion and take a blurry picture in an attempt to have a nice picture on your blog

Put all ingredients in large pot
I'm so into arranging things for these pictures

Add cooking liquid from the brisket
Boil till nice and cooked
And you thought I didn't cook vegetables

Arrange all on plate (Irish soda bread compliments of a loyal follower)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cheesy Bacony Beefy Jalapeno BBQ Sausage (don't try this at home)

Huh... so I had a couple back-logged cooking exploits I thought I was going to re-kick this whole thing off with, but I seem to have misplaced the pictures that would make this possible. Looks like I'm going to have to make do with what I've got and jump right into a more recent adventure.

Just a quick FYI - if I do find those pics we will have Corned Beef, Pickled Pork with Red Beans and Rice, and one other mystery post. If I don't find the pics we probably won't be seeng those for a while.

Anyway... onwards!

As the title suggests, I'm going to recommend you do not replicate or attempt to replicate what I did with what turns out to be a pretty gross endeavor. Not quite a disaster of the Tabastard magnitude (i.e. inedible), but not really one worth trying.

This was the first time I've invented my own sausage. Hopefully this will be the first of many. Hopefully the many to follow will be better than this one. With the ingredients and constitution of this sausage, only one name is appropriate: Cheesy Bacony Beefy Jalapeno BBQ Sausage. Sounds good, right? Wrong. Reasons for this failure may come to light as I describe the creation process. Also... I didn't have my camera handy, so took all pictures with my cell phone. Bear with me, here -- We're in the midst of a financial crisis.

Cheesy Bacony Beefy Jalapeno BBQ Sausage

-Juice of 1 lemon
-3/4 cup ketchup
-3/4 large onion, diced
-1 Tbsp butter
-3 Tbsp molasses
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-2 Tbsp ancho chile powder
-2 Tbsp California chile powder
-2 Tbsp Mustard
-1 Tbsp Wocestershire sauce

-One block sharp cheddar, cubed (1/4"^3)
-2 nacho-style jalapeno cans
-1/2 lb good slab bacon
-1 1/2 lb beef chuck, ground
-3 lb pork shoulder, ground (see previous sausage post)
-hog casings

**A quick note: I moved recently, and in the process, lost my measuring instruments. Thus, all measurements are approximate. This is not the reason the recipe didn't turn out well.


Sweat onions in butter. Add all the other ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes.

This was not bad for BBQ sauce, but not good for sausage.

So the theory here was to let the EWKR BBQ sauce be the seasoning for the meat. Instead of a bunch of spices making the sausage, I thought it would be clever to use the sauce. It may work in the future, but this could have been mistake number one. Mix everything except bacon.

(From left to right) Top: Beef, Pork, EWKR BBQ sauce
Bottom: Cheese cubes and Jalapenos

Allow to sit over night for seasoning to set in, Add bacon and mix. Prepare stuffing equipment.

Would you call this more of a cumulus or cumulo-nimbus formation of hog intestine?

Stuff the sausage.
I'm considering renaming this blog "Why I don't have a girlfriend." This picture can be the background.

So. Why was it not good? On paper, the Cheesy Bacony Beefy Jalapeno BBQ Sausage sounds perfect. There are a few reasons I've come up with:

1.) The BBQ sauce. Ketchup base for the BBQ sauce was a mistake. It made the whole batch taste like some kind of meatloaf. Next time (if there is a next time) I will try more of a chili sauce. No ketchup and no tomato. Just something nice and hot.

2) My cheap sausage stuffer. Since I use my meat grinder with a different attachment to stuff the sausage, the stuffing auger mashes ingredients up as it stuffs. This made the cheese blocks incorporate too much (not the melted pockets of cheese I envisioned), and the bacon to disappear completely.

3) The cheese. Melted cheese in there made things way too oily.

In summary, the Cheesy Bacony Beefy Jalapeno BBQ Sausage was more of a Mediocre Meatloaf sausage, and I do not recommend trying this one out.

the Indefensible

Like Warren Buffet buying a jet, I really have no excuse for my prolonged blogabsence (I just made that word up) Blogatus? Blog-cation?

By my count it's been about a 5 month layoff. But.. the faithful Porkpile Follower community has clamored for updates and more meaty enlightenment. They've demanded more cooking adventures/follies/shameless recipe stealing, and who am I to disappoint the masses.

Clearly I can't guarantee any measure of consistency, but I'm going to keep trucking at my own pace and try to post something every once in a while when I feel like it if I can find the time ... maybe. Someday I might even make good on my promise to have either a non-meat post, or a totally non-cooking post. You just never know what's going to happen!!

Possible Reasons for the lag (with accompanying odds):

230,890:1 - I became a vegan and started cooking seitan sausages, couscous burgers, and fruit salads

11,408:1 - The rapidly expanding Porkpile follower universe came to include 3 high-ranking members of a publishing company, one of whom offered me a lucrative book deal (I'm not one to divulge numbers.. but let's just say it's in the 7 figure range). The last 5 months I have been writing non-stop.

11,507.5:1 - I became so sick of typing thoughtful, parenthetical asides, ellipses, and lists that I couldn't keep blogging ...(someday remind me to tell you about the 'creative essay' in high school I got a C on because I had too many parenthetical afterthoughts...)

11,407:1 - The economic climate has compromised the top 3 Porkpile sponsors, forcing me to seek government bailout money to fund the high-powered research and information gathering (not to mention countless man-hours) that go into each one of these posts. Thankfully, a grant was just... granted for a hefty sum of money that will allow operations to resume.

2,400:1 - My job is so intense I just don't have the time to write these insightful posts

27:1 - All of my time the last four months has been dedicated to intensive fantasy baseball research

4:1 - I feel like a jackass blogging other people's recipes that I've cooked 1-5 times and acting like 1) I invented it and 2) I'm some kind of cooking aficionado

5:2 - I've just been too lazy.