Another title to this recipe might be: How to spend 7 days, waiting for something to happen.
First of all, this is not a recipe for cooking the corned beef… this is a recipe for making the corned beef. Once the beef is properly made, it can be used in a traditional Corned Beef & Cabbage dish, or you could make Corned Beef Hash, or you could make some excellent Pastrami. Those recipes are forthcoming; however, for now, let’s spend the next 7 days making a corned beef.
It does an excellent job of killing all those nasty bacteria, and produces the bright pink color we associate with corned beef. It is not the same as Morton Tender Quick, so don’t confuse the two.
Chef’s Tip: When you weigh salt, it doesn't matter what type of salt you use. However, I prefer kosher salt because it has fewer additives.
Find yourself a large non-reactive container that is large enough to hold a gallon of water, and the brisket.
Cher’s Note: What is non-reactive? Non-reactive containers will be stainless steel, glass, porcelain, or food grade plastic. DO NOT use any container made of aluminum, copper, or cast iron, as they will react to the salt and ruin the brisket. I find that a good brining bag makes an excellent container. amazon.com/...p;keywords=brining+bag
Mix the brine ingredients (and optional items, if using) in 1-quart of very hot water, and allow to sit, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Then add 3 quarts very cold water, and allow to cool in the refrigerator until chilled.
Chef's Note: Unless you’re planning on making pastrami (and we’re not), remove as much of the fat from the exterior of the brisket as possible; however, leave about 1/8 of an inch on one side.
Chef’s Note: Because you will eventually cook the corned beef in simmering water, the fat gets gummy, and very unappetizing. When you make pastrami, you smoke the brisket, and the fat helps to make the meat juicy .
Chef’s Tip: When you go to purchase your brisket, tell your butcher what you’re going to do, and they’ll be able to direct you to the best cut for the corned beef.
Chef's Note: Some people have been known to add a cup or two of Guinness to the brine (now that's the spirit), but since I've never added beer to the brine, I'll let you decide on that one.
Add the meat to the brine, and then add a non-reactive weight to the top to keep the brisket submerged in the liquid.
If you’re using a brining bag (my method), then you won’t need a weight; just make sure you remove as much of the air from the bag as possible, before sealing.
Place in the refrigerator, and allow it to sit for 5 to 7 days (I recommend 7). Every once in awhile go in and move it around a bit. That way all the sides of the brisket will get full exposure to the brine solution.
Chef’s Note: That’s it… after seven days you will have a “proper” corned beef. What you do with it next, is entirely up to you. You could go for a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner, you could turn it into yummy pastrami, or you could make some tasty corned beef hash.
I'll be posting recipes for all three in the coming days.
Chef’s Note: I did forget about one of my brining briskets (stuck in the back of the test kitchen refrigerator), and it stayed there for 4 weeks… tasted fine. Go figure.
One more thing… There is NO corn in corned beef… And now you know the rest of the story.