Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Corned Beef

I discovered how to make corned beef and really enjoy it now without having to pay $10-15 per lb. This takes 2-3 weeks to make but most of the time the meat is just sitting in a brine in the fridge. It's fairly easy though.

Buy at least a 5-6 lb brisket though I have used cheap roasts that I have found on sale. They all seem to work well.
Cut the beef into about 1.5 lb chunks. A 6 lb piece of beef will cut into 4 pieces and can be put into 4 freezer bags with brine added
Place each chunk into a gallon-sized freezer bag.
For the brine, start with a gallon of water. Add one cup of either canning salt of kosher salt.
To the brine add 3 tablespoons of Instacure (also known as pink salt, Prague powder) pickling salt, 8 smashed garlic cloves, and 8 bay leaves.**
Add the brine to the each of the freezer bags, equally distributing bay leaves and garlic. Remove as much air as you can when sealing the bags.
I double-bag each piece of meat, just in case one of them leaks. Or you can place all 4 bags in a large bowl in the fridge.
Place the bags in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I hear 3 weeks is better than 2, but I usually run out of patience at the 2-week mark. Each day, squeeze the bags slightly and shake spices around to help work brine into the meat.
When you reach the 2 or 3 week mark, take meat out of the bags and rinse the meat well.


Place the meat into a large pot. You can be creative here, cooking it in just about anything you want to cook it in. I usually stick to this basic idea though. Add a bottle or two of any beer. Add a couple of smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, and freshly ground pepper. Again, be creative.
Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, covered.

This is good served in Reuben sandwiches, corned beef hash or with potaotes, onions and cabbage, and many other recipes.

** Fresh bay leaves are SO much better than store bought. Buy a bay tree at your local nursery and grow them yourselves. Here in growing zone 5 I put mine in a container and have to bring it in during the winter.


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