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Corned Beef At Home: Recipes, Tips, etc.


richw
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I have made a few in the past. Here is my general brine ratio.

1 cup salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsbp DC #1 disolved in one gallon H2O.

Heat to disolve solids and add aromatics, allow to come to room temp, and then chill to 35-40 F.

You can also use and follow brining directions found on "Morton Instacure" (failsafe method for a first try).

Plenty of pickling spice, black peppercorns & few additional bay leaves are what I use for the aromatic/flavoring... Maybe some additional dried red chillies.

Here is where it gets different.. I like to brine my brisket in an igloo cooler or a 5 gallon bucket instead of taking up all the space in the fridge.. It has to stay cold for 48 hours or so.. so I make a concentrated brine solution and and add ice to compensate.. 8 lbs of ice ~ 1 gallon H2O.. or the full dose of salt, sugar.. etc to 1/2 gallon H2O and then 4-4.5 lbs ice. And feel free to scale it up to whatever amount you may need.

Have your brining vessel clean and cold and add your ice, brisket, and top with the chilled brine to cover and weight with an inverted plate to keep submerged. Put in a cold place and let it soak for 24-72 hours.. I like to go at least 48. You can also speed up the process by injecting or spray injecting the target critter.

Brine time is up.. pull it out rinse it off and burn.. or sprinkle lightly with salt and let dry/cure in the fridge for 6-8 hours or so if you wanted to smoke or attempt a pastrami. Of course you could wrap well and freeze etc..

Good luck,

Kev

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I make corned beef on regular basis - seems to be a consistent crowd-pleaser.

First, pick up a good quality beef - I usually use American Kobe brisket, and have also tried AmKobe eye of round (brisket is preferable). My suggestion to you is to call a local meat-cutter - they'd be able to get that brisket for you from whatever supplier they use, and you'll buy it at a wholesale price ($3.80 - $4.00).

Next trim your brisket of extra fat - try to follow natural seams, and don't cut across the grain.

Next prepare the brine - "Charcuterie" book has a good recipe, if you can't look at that book let me know - I'll post it for you. Also, that same book has a basic pickling spice recipe, which is what going to give your beef that desired "corned" flavor - more on that in a moment.

To make brine you will need kosher salt, dextrose/honey, sugar and some type of curing mix. There are many recipes, but I would recommend 70/30 salt/sugar ratio for corned beef, and 60/40 for pastrami. Check www.mortonsalt.com for tips and recipes, also I would strongly suggest Morton® Coarse Kosher Salt and Morton® Tender Quick® as your main brine ingredients. Dextrose is easily available (Asian markets are a good and inexpensive source), feel free to use honey (my preference is to use honey from local farmers, but store-bought products would do as well). Sugar could be of any type, I like light demerara or high-quality brown sugar, rock sugar will add yet another layer of taste - but you'd have to heat some water to dissolve it (rock sugar costs pennies @ Asian markets, BTW).

Next step - pickling spice. You can buy decent spice mix @ Penzey's (www.penzeys.com), but you'll need to add a few things, so your final product stands out. Make your own PS, and the result would be better - I promise (I want to know what goes in any of my mixed products, of any kind!). Pick up any recipe, add a bit more coriander than it calls for, and then.... drum roll, please! - Let’s put some taste into it:

Long Balinese pepper (my favorite spice, at the moment)

Schechuan peppercorns

Star Anise (very little)

Allspice

Juniper berries (literally 2-3, no more)

Crushed cardamom (I prefer green for this application)

Ginger root (fresh, smashed)

Cinnamon (Vietnamese or Ceylon - it smells almost citrus-like)

Yellow Mustard seed

Red chilies (just a few)

Green tea

Cloves (again- very few)

Nutmeg

Mint or tarragon (or both)

Lemongrass stalks

Peanuts (optional)

If you have an African store in your city -check'em out for Grains of Paradise, and the Long Balinese pepper (I couldn't believe the prices). Both would make a nice addition to your pickling spice.

Generally ethnic stores have great prices, although product quality would be lower than that of a premium vendor, esp. as far as spices are concerned.

I would urge to use Schechuan peppercorns - you'll taste the difference.

Next step - brining.

This is a must: all brining must be done @ 36-40F (i.e. in the cooler/fridge) - NO SHORTCUTS.

Don't inject your meat with brine - it wouldn't taste uniform.

Brine your meat in the fridge, completely submerged (very important!) for 4-5 days.

After brining is complete - poach your briskets with plenty bay leaf and black peppercorns until fork tender. Your corned beef is ready!!!

Finally, call a local butcher, and have them vacuum pack your corned beef for you - it will keep frozen a lot longer, and it wouldn't suffer from freezer burns.

Got questions? Ask - I'll answer promptly.

Edited by MikeTMD (log)

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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Wow-you think of corned beef, I think of corned beef, we ALL think of corned beef.

Actually, I've been thinking about making corned beef at home for about a month now in preparation for an upcoming cooking segment on my local ABC affiliate to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. My initial thought was that making corned beef from scratch would be incredibly difficult. But I wanted our viewers to see it could be done quite easily, and the taste would be worth the time.

And I found it was incredibly easy-using just a few ingredients and easy techniques. That hardest part-waiting for the corned beef to cure in the brine for a week, then waiting for it to slowly braise in a low oven. The wait was a killer. But the results, oh so worth it. While the finished homemade corned beef isn't as good as what you'll find in a deli that's been making corned beef for 100 years, it is light years better than that prepackaged stuff you'll find in the supermarket this time of year.

As noted above, I started with the recipe on page 114 of the March 2008 issue of Bon Appetit.

I changed the brine a bit from the printed recipe-I added 2 bottles of beer instead of 2 cups. And I used two different beers. Not so much for taste but because that's what I had in the cupboard. I added bay leaves which weren't in the recipe. One item I forgot to put in the photo that is ESSENTIAL to your corned beef is Sodium Nitrate. You'll find it in the sausage making aisle of a sporting goods store. Sometimes it comes under the brand name "Insta Cure #1." It looks like pink salt. It is both a preservative and an aid in making the corned beef red. Very important.

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I placed the corned beef in a large Tupperware container, added the brine, then put the corned beef in the fridge for a week.

After one week I drained off the brine and made a braising liquid per the recipe in Bon Appetit. But I used 2 bottles of beer instead of one, 3 dried red chiles instead of 2, and some pickling spices. I added the brine to a roasting pan, the corned beef, then covered it in foil.

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I braised the corned beef for 5 hours at 300 degrees. Here's Mr. Corny Beef after he was brought out of the oven.

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This is the finished corned beef on the cutting board ready for slicing.

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And finally, slices of the rich corned beef, in all it's gooey, sticky, absolutely delicious fattiness. Later this week I hope to tempt you with a photo of the corned beef in a classic Rueben sandwich. Enjoy.

gallery_41580_4407_58100.jpg

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Sorry, that last photo was a bit too red and fuzzy. But as promised, here are the results of my attempt at making Corned Beef at home.

Sliced and ready for the Rueben:

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And in the classic Rueben-Dark Rye, Homemade Russian Dressing, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Corned Beef (most of the fat left on). All toasted in a cast iron skillet with a good measure of butter to crisp the bread. Served with a Dill spear:

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Very nice job David Ross, I am not at all surprised, and I appreciate your additional comments.

We did something similar this past weekend:

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We did not add any nitrate so I'm keen to see the final color of the beef.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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We did not add any nitrate so I'm keen to see the final color of the beef.

Umm, I think that you or your guests will be disappointed with the final color if they are expecting "traditional". Here's what happened to mine last year without any nitrate (I basically used Alton Brown's technique, but left out the saltpeter). People said that it tasted good, but didn't look anything like corned beef. This year, I'm just sending my guests to David Ross' house. :raz:

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The last photo is killer David. Nice job.

Thanks for the kind comments. In fact, I am loving my corned beef so much I am having a Rueben Sandwich for breakfast, 752am Pacific Time!

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Sodium Nitrate is essential when making corned beef because it acts as both a preservative and coloring agent. But somebody prove me wrong and give us a photo of a nice pinky-red corned beef made without sodium nitrate. Without adding it to your brine you'll probably end up with tasty meat that is a pretty sad greyish-brown. Remember, the first sensation we use at the table is the sense of vision-quite simply, how good our food looks. If the corned beef looks the way our brains think it should look, i.e. the right color, then our sense of smell and taste will kick in and tell us we're in store for a nice meal of corned beef and cabbage. If the corned beef looks bad, well, let your mind determine if it tells your stomach that dinner will taste o.k.

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My local sporting good store is lacking a sausage making aisle. dag nabbit and I don't have the energy to drive thirty miles and fight the crowd at Cabellas this weekend. Any ideas where I can get the sodium nitrate if I don't have a local source? I'm dying for some good corned beef that does not cost more than my kids shoes.

(Otherwise, I would just fight the crowds at Zingerman's).

Blog.liedel.org

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My local sporting good store is lacking a sausage making aisle. dag nabbit and I don't have the energy to drive thirty miles and fight the crowd at Cabellas this weekend. Any ideas where I can get the sodium nitrate if I don't have a local source? I'm dying for some good corned beef that does not cost more than my kids shoes.

(Otherwise, I would just fight the crowds at Zingerman's).

Morton's Tender Quick (sodium nitrate). Find it in the spice, or canning isle at Meijer's or Kroger's.

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My local sporting good store is lacking a sausage making aisle. dag nabbit and I don't have the energy to drive thirty miles and fight the crowd at Cabellas this weekend. Any ideas where I can get the sodium nitrate if I don't have a local source? I'm dying for some good corned beef that does not cost more than my kids shoes.

(Otherwise, I would just fight the crowds at Zingerman's).

You can also find it in the Sporting Goods section of any Walmart store. Hopefully you've got one close by. Go to the aisle where they have wood chips and smokers. You'll find it in a little clear package, looks like pink salt. Barring that, you would probably have to order it online.

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My local sporting good store is lacking a sausage making aisle. dag nabbit and I don't have the energy to drive thirty miles and fight the crowd at Cabellas this weekend. Any ideas where I can get the sodium nitrate if I don't have a local source? I'm dying for some good corned beef that does not cost more than my kids shoes.

(Otherwise, I would just fight the crowds at Zingerman's).

There are a few sources for you:

www.sausagemaker.com ( look in the "Meat Curing")

www.sausagesource.com

www.butcher-packer.com

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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  • 4 weeks later...

I recently had a chance to visit Terminal Market in Philly.

These are the examples of their corned beef and Rueben Sandwiches.

gallery_57905_5849_9024.jpg

gallery_57905_5849_20387.jpg

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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I have made corned beef several times following the recipe in Ruhlman and Polcyn's "Charcuterie". I totally agree with most comments on this thread. It is extremely easy and you get great results even from a generic "pickling spice blend" provided it has not been sitting on your supermarket shelf forever. If you are on the fence as to whether or not to try your hand at corned beef I would start with the commercial blend of spices just to make life easier. If you can, definitely try and find Kobe brisket. It is significantly better than the standard commercial and still very reasonably priced. If you cannot, making your own is still way better than you get at any deli I've been to. The biggest difference I've found is that in the freshly made corned beef you can really identify the individual components in the spice blend as opposed to just tasting that "corned" flavor. Mind you, these flavors seem to be somewhat volatile and I've noticed flavor degredation over just a few days, so eat up or vac pac to keep that goodness in as much as possible. Bottom line...this is so easy anyone who likes corned beef should try it...I will never buy even from a good deli again.

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We did not add any nitrate so I'm keen to see the final color of the beef.

Umm, I think that you or your guests will be disappointed with the final color if they are expecting "traditional".

In New England, especially in the Boston area, gray corned beef is more traditional. Both red and gray versions are available in most supermarkets, but gray is much more common. Perhaps "gray" is an Irish tradition.

Jim

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Brining or marinade liquid volume can be reduced by putting the brisket or whatever in a trash bag and adding the liquid and squeezing the air out. You can then stabilize this in most any clean bucket, large bowl or even a cardboard box.

You can just slosh the bag contents around a couple of times a day.

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  • 11 months later...

My local Costco (in Japan) no longer carries brisket, but I really really really want to make corned beef. They now carry flap steak. According to an article in the SF Gate

Flap meat, flap steak. Called bavette d'aloyau in France, this fan-shaped cut is an extension of the T-bone and Porterhouse on the short loin.

It also says

Like skirt or flank steak, flap meat benefits from marinating and being cooked on high, dry heat, whether grilled, broiled, pan-fried or stir-fried. It's vital to cut the meat very thinly across the grain, and it is at its best not too much past medium-rare.

Does this mean there's no way it can be used to make corned beef? My only other option would be to order from Tokyo, but then I'd either have to get a reasonably-sized salt-cured ready-to-boil brisket or a huge uncured piece of meat. The flap steak would give me a reasonably-sized uncured piece of meat, but if it won't make good corned beef, then there's no point.

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  • 1 year later...

Last week I had some corned beef at a neighbor's house and decided that it's about time I make my own, and would like to start the learning process by purchasing a prepared package to cook up myself. I did this once about 25 years ago and the results were terrible, which may be the reason I've not tried it again. So, perhaps someone can give me some pointers on how to best prepare a package prepared beef.

What cut should I be looking for? Brisket or something else - round? Is the meat already "cured" and all that I'd need to do is boil or simmer it, or does the meat need to be marinated a while? The packages I've seen have small packets of spices included. Do I use those spices to marinate the meat or just dump them into the cooking liquid? Is there anything else that might be added, or needs to be added, to the cooking water besides the spice packet? Does the meat get cooked in plain water, or would adding some broth be helpful? Apart from rinsing the meat, should it be soaked to remove excess salt, etc.? Does the meat get boiled or is it simmered? On the stove top or in the oven? If in the oven, at what temperature and for how long?

Once I've done this a time or two I'll try making it myself, and will start looking for a spice recipe beginning with the information David posted earlier in this thread.

Thanks for any help. This Jewish boy is missing good corned beef.

 ... Shel


 

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My Cooking method:

I prefer the point cut which has a bit more fat - but don't worry about the fat for the finally product. I am not brand-specific, I just buy what's on sale for Saint Patrick's Day.

I use (depending on the qty I am making) either my 8 qt electric chicken roaster or my 18 qt electric turkey roaster. You can use a dutch oven in the oven also but having an insert helps.

I put corned beef (fat side up) onto an insert so that it is up off of the bottom of the vessel, and then sprinkle the spice packet over the meat. For each corned beef I use one can of bottle of Guinness beer poured over the top to wash a bit of the seasoning into the liquid. I cook at 275 degrees F for 8 hours. After the cooking I pull the meat out and allow to cool for a few minutes and then scrap the fat off before slicing.

FWIW I use this recipe to cook 3 or 4 at a time to share as part of a lunch feast with my fellow guild members (but not the public) at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and have people tell me that "I don't like corned beef but I like this."

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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The briskets from the stores have already been corned, the little packets dont have enough stuff to do much of anything,,I do mine in a Pressure cooker I add at least a third of a cup of pickling spice and a couple of cloves of garlic..and water to just cover,then cook for at least an hour, at max pressure. If you want to corn your own,from scratch, that is another matter...look on the Charcuitrie thread and there is probably some direction...

Bud

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