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”.

Traditional Corned Beef dinner is served with boiled cabbage, carrots, and potatoes.  As I was getting ready to plunge my vegetables to their death, in a boiling pot of stock, that was left from boiling the meat;  it hit me smack in the side of the head.  We both hate boiled veggies, except potatoes;  they are usually over-cooked, zapped of their beautiful colors, and left as a dirty, grayish heap of unidentified vegetables.  Why don’t I roast them?  I took the long, bright, orange carrots and drizzled them with olive oil.  The chunks of cabbage, were also, lightly drizzled with olive oil, a little lemon, and a sprinkle of salt.  I roasted both until sweet and lightly caramelized.  I did boil the potatoes, but I added a healthy dose of crushed garlic to the boiling water.  Once the potatoes were tender but still holding their shape, I tossed them with a pat of butter and a handful of parsley.
The caramelized vegetables were the perfect addition to my slightly salty corned beef.  For the first attempt at brining a brisket, I was pleased.  It was edible, pretty, and comforting.  Incredibly most, tender, and juicy.  Next time, I would rinse it a little longer, as we felt the meat was a bit salty, otherwise;  Perfection!
Corned Beef

* serve with Roasted Cabbage and Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds beef brisket
3/4 cup of kosher salt
1/8 cup sugar
8 cups of water
1 teaspoon allspice berries
2 teaspoon juniper berries
2 black caradmon pods
3 bay leaves
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock
olive oil
How To:
  • 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.
  • Serve.
  • Eat.
Irish Whiskey Glaze

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
Combine everything in a saucepan, over low heat, cook until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside until ready to use.

 


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