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Brining a Beef Brisket to make Corned Beef

Brining a Beef Brisket to make Corned Beef

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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.  Cathy our taste-buds thank you for picking this challenge, and I am excited to share this recipe for Brining a Beef Brisket to make Corned Beef.

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 Charcuterie 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 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 the cooking, I let it cool, overnight.

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 as 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.

For the first attempt at brining a brisket, I was pleased.  It was edible, pretty, and comforting.  Incredibly moist, tender, and juicy.  Next time, I would rinse it a little longer, as I felt the meat was a little salty, otherwise;  Perfection!

Recipe:  Brining a Beef Brisket to make Corned Beef

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 cardamom 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, cardamom, 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 refrigerator 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 caramelized.

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;  maybe 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 refrigerator overnight.

Heat oven to 375.

Remove the brisket from the refrigerator.  Take out of the stock and discard 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.



Recipe:  Irish Whiskey Glaze

** if you feel the need to glaze before serving.  You can also just drizzle the juices from the meat all over the meat and vegetables before serving.


1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

How To:
Combine everything in a saucepan, over low heat, cook until sugar is dissolved.
Set aside until ready to use.
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Wednesday 23rd of March 2011

What a beautiful plate. I recently prepared a traditional Corned Beef dinner but you've inspired me to do one up again. Thank you- KC


Tuesday 22nd of March 2011

Your hash is beautiful and colorful and so tasty looking, and that post led me here. I can go either way on hash - all minced or chunky - as long as it's got crispy edges, so your photo made me sigh. The whiskey glaze? Brilliant. Perfect snappy finish to the corned beef. And I'm guessing it infused that breakfast food with a little somethin' somethin'...


Friday 18th of March 2011

Each year around St. Patrick's Day I buy corned beef - good corned beef, but store-bought nonetheless - and each year I'm disappointed with what ends up on my plate (even when using a simmered-in-Guinness-for-8-hours method like I did this year, which was a vast improvement.) Well, not anymore. I've saved your recipe for corning my own and I thank you for being a charcutepaloozian. I may even join in myself one of these days.


Friday 18th of March 2011

Denise your corned beef dinner is a work of art. Stunning!


Wednesday 16th of March 2011

I know this post is about brisket/ corned beef, but those CARROTS!