WOWZA! I was really excited when I read about the March Charcutepalooza Challenge; brining. I have been wanting to brine a brisket, to make my own Corned Beef, ever since I received the Bi-Rite newsletter, last year. Cathy and Kim, our taste-buds thank you for picking this challenge.
This month’s challenge gave us two options to play with. The Apprentice Challenge, where we could simply brine a whole chicken or pork chops. The Charcutiere Challenge, where we could brine, and then corn, a piece of beef, such as brisket. I have brined a turkey before, so I decided to forgo, the Apprentice Challenge, and grab the Charcutiere Challenge by the horns.
It would be unlike me if I did not deviate away from the
required suggested recipe, and this challenge was no exception. The recipe in Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing for brining has the addition of “pink salt”. As I have mentioned before, I have a problem with using pink salt, and especially after Dominique taught me, that I do not need to use it. I did omit it from this challenge. Brining is simple; dissolve salt, and sugar, in water, then add warm spices to it. I used unprocessed sugar, which gave my brine a nice amber color. The spices I used were juniper berries, black cardamon pods, bay leave and some yellow onion.
Since there are only two of us, and we don’t need to be eating brisket for days, I went with 2 1/2 pounds of beef. This would be enough for a traditional corned beef dinner as well as a little extra for hash. I picked up a beautiful cut of beef brisket at the market. Once my brine mixture was ready, I submerged the brisket into the salty bath, put a small plate on top of the meat, to hold it down, covered my pot, and put it into the fridge; out of sight, and slightly out of mind. I did check, every couple of days, to make sure the brisket was still well submerged. Finally, day seven approached, I could not wait. I figured the process would work, or I would risk making us sick or kill us for not properly brining meat. The brisket, was slightly pink in color, very firm, and definitely smelled like corned beef. I rinsed it very well, patted it dry, and simmered it long and slow, in a mixture of minced onion, garlic, tomato paste and white wine. After the brisket was done cooking, I let it cool, overnight.
I tossed around the idea of simply reheating some of the stock, and drizzling it over slices of the meat, but, I wanted more. I made a glaze using Jamesons Irish Whiskey, grainy mustard, honey, and brown sugar. I lightly painted the slices of corned beef, with the glaze and gently reheated for a few minutes. It reminded me of candy chicken with a “kick”.
- In a large stainless steel pot, bring the water, salt, and sugar to a low simmer, only until dissolved. Stir in the allspice berries, juniper berries, caradamon, 2 bay leaves, and half of the yellow onion.
- Save the other half of the onion for later or use in another recipe. Cool the brining mixture until cold.
- Add the brisket. You want to make sure the brisket is submerged. You may have to put a small plate on top of the meat to keep it under the brine mixture. Cover with a lid. Put into the refridgerator and forget about it for 7 days (up to 10).
- Remove the meat from the brine and rinse with cold water. Pat dry.
- In a large dutch oven, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.
- Mince the other half of the onion. Add it to the olive oil, cook until caramlized.
- Add the tomato paste. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add 1 bay leave and the brisket.
- Add the chicken stock, you will want to add enough to submerge the brisket; may be 6 cups or a little less or a little more, depending on the size of your dutch oven. Cover with a lid.
- Cook over a low simmer, for 2 hours. Let cool.
- Put into the refridgerator over night.
- Heat oven to 375.
- Remove the brisket from the refridgerator. Take out of the stock and disgard the stock, unless, you are going to use for your vegetables.
- Trim any extract fat from the brisket.
- Slice into slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet covered with foil. Lightly paint the glaze over the slices. Bake for 6 – 8 minutes, until heated through.
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard