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 and Kim, 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; 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 moist, tender, and juicy. Next time, I would rinse it a little longer, as we felt the meat was a bit salty, otherwise; Perfection!
Brining a Beef Brisket to make Corned Beef
- 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.
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