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!

Ingredients:

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

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

Process:
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

Slice
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
Check

Stew:
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)

38 comments:

katie said...

this was DELICIOUS.

Not beet powder? But I want my beef to look bloody red!

Can we corn something else? Maybe ostrich...

Ted said...

i used the same brine on some pork shoulder.

your beef won't be bloody red if you use beet powder.. but your sh*t will be

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