St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner but there is still time to try your hand at making authentic corned beef for the holiday.
Corned beef is a preparation in which a cut of beef, traditionally the brisket, is cured in a brine solution along with various seasonings, and then slowly simmered until it's tender and flavorful. Although the exact beginnings of corned beef are unknown, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Corned beef remains popular in the United Kingdom and countries with British culinary traditions. Contrary to popular belief, corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish, but originates as part of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Irish-American culture.
The Organic Butcher carries pickling spices for your convenience but you can also make your own. The following is a recipe from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing for both the spice mix and home curing.
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
2 tbsp allspice berries
1 tbsp ground mace
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
2 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tbsp whole cloves
1 tbsp ground ginger
Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.
Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.
For our pre-made corned beef, we typically brine cure our brisket for 7-10 days flipping the meat every day or so. We do not use curing salts in our preparation but do sell Instacure #1 by the tablespoon for those who prefer it at home.
HOME-CURED CORNED BEEF
1-1/2 cups kosher salt
½ cup sugar
4 teaspoons pink salt or Instacure #1 (sodium nitrite), optional
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons pickling spice
1 4-5-pound first cut brisket
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped.
In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 5 days.
Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, carrot, onion and celery. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket.
Keep warm until ready to serve. Meat can be refrigerated for several days in cooking liquid. Reheat in the liquid or serve chilled. Slice thinly and serve on a sandwich or with additional vegetables simmered until tender in the cooking liquid.