It’s not too late to corn your own beef if you celebrate St. Paddy’s day! I haven’t yet and my wife, who has Irish roots, expects it on this day! Below is a recipe for a quick cure, which should work on most contemporary briskets which are an inch or two thick (it’s all in the pickling spice, which you can buy or better, use our recipe below, far far superior than store bought if you’re not pressed for time). You can also use a two-inch thick chuck roast or any two-inch thick cut of meat (I actually prefer chuck roast because the briskets are so lean these days, and more expensive). See recipe for the beef below and method for finishing the meal in the post; if you use pink salt (sodium nitrite) in Read On »

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Photos by Donna [I'm on a blog break from 5/17 through 5/31, so I'm putting up favorite food posts from the archives.] It began with pickles. I’d bought a quart of small cukes to pickle with tarragon but I wasn’t thinking as I made the brine.  I wanted some spice in there so I added black peppercorns.  Then, here is the not thinking part, I put in a load of coriander seed, then the tarragon, but as I smelled the brine coming up to heat, it was clear that pepper and coriander would completely overpower the tarragon, and simply don’t belong together.  So I removed the tarragon.  Donna arrived just then and said, “Mmm, smells good in here. Like corned beef.” Having ruined the brine for the pickles (using the standard 5% brine ratio from Read On »

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This was dinner last night, moments before it was consumed.  Donna said, “This is the best cabbage I’ve ever had,” and, back at the stove, looking for thirds on the corned beef, “This is all you made?” All in all, a success.  I’ve used this particular preparation several times and it can’t be beat, a really smart strategy for cooking and serving and making use of all the flavors and juices and soft textures. First cook your corned beef (simmered for a few hours, braised, wrapped in foil with sliced onions for 4 hours at 250—how I did it—or even cooked sous vide). Only way not to cook this is slow roasting (a perfectly fine strategy but won’t give you the liquid you need to finish the cabbage here). To complete the meal.  Saute 4 Read On »

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With the approach of St. Paddy’s day I got a brisket into the brine Friday, in time to make my wife the corned beef she loves. And I realized I’ve never blogged about it.  Everyone who cooks should corn their own beef.  It’s easy as brining a chicken. And when you make your own pickling spice (brine photo above, recipe below), you can really pump up the flavor. Any cut of beef can be “corned” (corn was originally a generic term for grain, deriving from the same root as kernel and grain; corning beef referred to curing beef with grains of salt, McGee, page 477, thanks to Patrick for his corrective comment).  But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available Read On »

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