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Friday, February 28, 2014

Home Cured Corned Beef Recipe! YUM!!

When we first moved to the UK, I was a little naive about the food offerings. East Anglia has virtually no Mexican food ingredients.  Nor sourdough bread.  Nor any corned beef not found in a can.  Can you believe it?  And they used to rule the world!!!

So glad to be back in the US!  :)

Though, saying that, I did learn a lot from living in a country that was devoid of foods I knew and loved.  One of those foods was good old corned beef.  Because I couldn't purchase it, I had to learn to make it myself.

And OH how glad I am that I did!!

Like most made-from-scratch things, home made corned beef is WORLDS above the store bought rubbish.  You can adjust for flavors and seasonings and even avoid nitrates if you want.  MUCH better for you. . .and unbelievably better tasting.  And, really, it's not that hard to do.

The basic brine is:

1/2 Gallon of Water
1 Cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

For traditional style Corned Beef, all you need to add is 2-3 Tablespoons of Pickling Spices to the brine.  If you want to maintain the traditional pinkish color you're familiar with, add 2-3 Tablespoons of Saltpeter (potassium nitrate).  (I don't really like adding nitrates to foods, and don't care too much about color, so I don't add the Saltpeter.)

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Immediately take off heat and cool completely, stirring occasionally to insure salt and sugar is dissolved.  If you have room, chill in the fridge.

Once completely cool, add the brine to a gallon or two gallon ziplock and add a 4-5 pound brisket.  Get out as much air as possible before sealing the bag.  Squish it around a bit to make sure the spices and brine are evenly distributed and then place in a large container and put the whole thing in the fridge.

Keep in the brine for at least five days, turning the meat every day.  You can keep curing up to 8 days.  When you are ready, remove from the fridge and empty the meat and spices into a colander.  Rinse both the meat and spices very well.  If you want lower salt, soak in cold water for an hour, change to fresh cold water, and soak again for an hour.

When you are ready, place the brisket and the rinsed in a large pot and cover with at least one inch of water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and  simmer for 3-4 hours, until tender.  (or cook in a crockpot!)

If you want to go a little off-the-beaten-path, you can adjust the seasonings to your liking.  I usually double the basic brine recipe and split a large brisket into two roasts.  One I do almost as above, adding chopped onion and garlic for an extra flavor boost.  The other I go a little bolder and add whatever spices I feel like at the moment.  The results are ALWAYS awesome!

Have fun!!

Note:  Pickling spices can be bought pre-mixed in the spice aisle, or you can blend your own. Here is a sample recipe, but adjust to your liking:
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 6 whole allspice 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 10 juniper berries 
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 crushed red pepper

Place in container in case brine spills!

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