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.)
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.
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!
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!|