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Friday, March 13, 2015

Home Made Corned Beef!

Corned beef is yummy.  And, frankly, it's good all year long in sandwiches, wraps, and as the lovely roast we typically think of.  Though I should make a disclaimer:  I'm NOT talking about that store bought stuff. I'm talking about the REAL yumminess:  Home Made Corned Beef!!

Oh. My. Gosh!  If you have never corned your own beef brisket in the past, you are SOOOO in for a treat!  It's so easy to do and, though it does have to brine for about 4-5 days, the actual "doing something to the beef" part is very quick.  And once you've tasted the difference between home made and store bought, you are never going back!!


Here's how:

Ingredients:
  • 1 Beef Brisket, trimmed of excessive fat (not all fat), weighing about 5-8 lbs.
  • 1 Gallons fresh Water
  • 3 cups Kosher Salt
  • 4-6 cloves of fresh Garlic, peeled
  • 1 large Onion, rough chopped
  • 2 tablespoons whole Mustard Seed
  • 2 tablespoons whole Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole Cloves
  • 3 tablespoons whole Peppercorns
  • 2 large Bay Leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Thyme, whole leaves 
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional!  Only if you like a bit of spice!!)
  • Also, very optional. . .5 teaspoons of ***Pink Curing Salt (more on that subject below!

Method:

Use a large enameled or stainless steel (NOT aluminum or cast iron) roasting pan, pot or crock. Mix the salt and the water and stir for several minutes until all the salt is dissolved. Though it's tempting to add the salt to warm or hot water, as it will dissolve faster, you will then have to wait until the water has completely cooled to proceed (warm water and raw meat isn't a safe combination!!).  So I would just use very cool water and take the extra minute or two to dissolve the salt.  Set aside.
***Pink Curing Salt:  To be honest, I'm not a fan.  Though it's absolutely necessary to get that pink meat color that is traditional in corned beef (and ham and sausages, etc.), I just don't like adding any kind of nitrates or nitrites to my food.  So, if you are after unbelievable taste, but you don't need that traditional pinky meat color, I'd recommend leaving the pink curing salt out.  If you have to have it, though, add away!

To a small, dry frying pan, add your mustard and coriander seeds, cloves, peppercorns and red pepper flakes (if you're using them!!).  Heat over medium low, stirring frequently, until the mixture smells fragrant and the seeds just begin to pop.  Turn off heat, give it one last stir, and set aside to cool.


When the spices are cooled, crush them lightly with a mortar and pestle and then combine with the remaining ingredients with the salted water,  Stir well to mix and then add the brisket.





Submerge the meat using a heavy object such as another stainless steel pot or a non-porous ceramic plate or two.  OR you can put the brisket and the brine in a two gallon ziplock bag and squeeze out the air. You want to make sure the brisket remains completely submerged at all times.

Cover and refrigerate for 4-5 days, turning the brisket once every day.  If you're in a particularly big hurry, you have reasonable results after 3 days, but if you have the time, wait the full five.

Cooking:

When you're ready to cook, remove the brisket and rinse well several times in fresh water.  Place in a crock pot. Strain off all the seeds, leaves and onions, etc. in a fine sieve, rinse well to remove excess salt and add to the crock pot, too.  Cover with fresh water and cook as usual.  I throw it in in the morning and by dinner, the meat is luscious, flavorful, and so tender it's falling apart!

Quick Tip:  If you are short on time, you can replace the individual pickling spices with 10 tablespoons of store bought.  It will still be yummier than anything you can buy pre-made!!



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