I realized that I never blogged about John’s corned beef adventure! You see, you can buy corned beef. Or, you can buy beef, and corn it yourself. I’m not entirely sure if “corn” is a verb, but I’ll pretend it is. I guess we could also call it curing.
To corn your own beef, you should buy some nitrates. This makes the beef…corn. It corns the beef. Nitrates also go by the name of pink salt, which is not to be confused with Himalayan pink salt.
John bought this pink salt on the internets. He told me not to eat it, because it’s poison. This is confusing for me, because we put it on the beef, and then ate the beef. But by itself, it is poison. Good to know.
I guess we could also call is Salt of Death. SoD. Death Salt. I feel like it should come with a skull and crossbones on it.
Anyway, you put the salt on the beef and vacuum seal it and refrigerate for a week, flipping it over every day.
Then you sous vide it for awhile! (recipe below) Also, build your own sous vide machine, suckers.
Once it’s cooked through, you still need to slice it and maybe saute it a bit. The texture is quite soft, and you’re going to want some crispy bits. The fatty parts in particular are alarming in their softness.
I don’t know about you, but corned beef = Reubens to me. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can make your own Russian dressing for it. This is a good idea, also because it can be hard to find Russian dressing in the store.
If you want to know A LOT about the science of corned beef, read this article on Serious Eats.
Here’s the recipe we used. To just make the beef, forget the carrots, potatoes and cabbage and stop at step 3. Then slice it, brown it up a bit, and serve on rye!
Corned Beef Brisket
serves 6 to 10, active time 20 minutes, total time 1 week for cure, 1 day for cooking
- 1 whole flat or point cut beef brisket, trimmed (about 5 pounds)
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of pink salt or 2 teaspoons on saltpeter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 6 bay leaves, roughly torn
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
- 1 whole head white or green cabbage, cut into 6 to 8 wedges (2 to 3 pounds total)
8 days before serving, combine salt, saltpeter (or pink salt), and brown sugar in a small bowl and whisk until homogenous. Rub evenly over every surface of brisket. Combine peppercorns, mustard, coriander, allspice, cloves, ginger, and bay leaves and sprinkle evenly over both sides of beef, pressing spices gently into the meat until they stick. Seal the beef in a vacuum sealed bag or a zipper-lock bag with all of the air pressed out of it. Place in coldest part of refrigerator and let rest for 7 days, flipping once a day.
The day before serving, remove the beef from the bag and carefully rinse off all spices under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. If cooking with a water oven, re-seal in a vacuum bag and cook at 180° until tender, about 10 hours. If cooking in a slow cooker, place directly in cooker, cover with water, and cook on “keep warm” setting (it should be about 180°) until completely tender, about 10 hours. If cooking on stovetop, place in large Durch oven, cover with water by several inches, bring to 180°F, then reduce heat to maintain temperature. Cook until completely tender, about 10 hours, adjusting heat and topping off with water as necessary.
Once beef is cooked, transfer to an airtight container along with cooking liquid (if cooked in a water oven, just store it in its vacuum bag). Let rest at least overnight, and up to 3 days.
The day of: transfer cooking liquid to a large saucepan or Dutch oven along with carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Top up with water until vegetables are submerged. Slice beef thinly against the grain and fan slices out in large skillet. Add 1 cup of liquid from pot to skillet and place skillet on top of pot. Cover skillet. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are completely tender and beef is heated through, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately with hot mustard.