Sunday, March 9, 2008

Corned Beef

Saint Patrick's Day is coming! My once o' year chance to eat Corned Beef and Cabbage. I know that Corned Beef isn't actually the traditional meal eaten in Ireland for St. Paddy's day. Corned Beef is an every day food, the food of the working class. The Irish are far more likely to eat a good Lamb Stew, which sounds good too, and I'm always tempted every year to make Lamb Stew instead, but I always break down and do the Corned Beef and Cabbage, because it's the one time of year I eat it, and it is incredibly delicious comfort food.
This year, I have decided to take the Corned Beef to a new level. I happened to see a Bon Appetite magazine for the month of March, and there was this mouth watering picture of a corned beef sandwich on the front. The image drew me to the magazine and made my stomach growl. I had to buy this magazine, I couldn't be stopped! It must be mine! I was so excited when I got home

So, I saw the recipe for brining your own corned beef, and thought, "I can do this!"

The Bon Appetite Recipe was simple. A 6 lb Beef Brisket being brined in beer, water, sugar salt, pickle spices, and, if available, Cure Number 1, which of coarse was not.
Thankfully, the cure is not necessary. It's merely the agent that makes the corned beef red. So, my corned beef will be gray, not red.

Ruhlman's recipe (from his new Charcuterie book that I recently bought) was also simple. The only difference was that he did not include beer, he called for a little more salt, white sugar instead of brown,garlic, and the cure was not optional in his recipe. So, when he said cure for 5 and Bon Appetite said 8, I went with 8, since I couldn't get the cure. Just a safety thing I guess.

So Kim's recipe is: a 5 1b brisket brined in 4 cups water, 2 cups Bass Ale, 1/4 cup pickling spices, 2 garlic cloves 2 cups course kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar. I would have put in the cure if I could have acquired some in time for starting the cure. Oh Well, A gray brisket is better than no brisket.

So, the brisket is currently out in the garage fridge brining away. This is day two ( and the garage smells like Corned beef! It's Awesome!). On Wednesday I'll take it out, and stir up the brine and turn over the brisket and let it brine for another 4 days. Sunday it should be done, which means time to cook it up with potatoes, carrots, turnips, and, of course, cabbage Monday afternoon.

I'm so excited to see what my cured corned beef tastes like. Will it be similar to what I buy, or very different, and if so, how will I feel about that? I'm not sure what to expect. So we shall see. I hope it's good.
So, I'll let you know, and in the mean time. Top O' the Mornin' to ya'

And in the words of Yeats:

"Irish poets learn your trade
Sing whatever is well made.
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after"
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into the clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indominitable Irishry.

W.B. Yeats, Under Ben Bulben

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