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Corned Beef and Cabbage

Let’s set the scene. It is March 11th. I have sourced a lovely piece of round and have decided to brine it- to corn it, for St. Patrick’s Day.  In order to corn beef, you need a few special ingredients. Off to Amazon, I cry. This is my rallying cry for almost everything in my life. (Specialty food ingredients! Toiletries! Pet supplies! Kitchen gadgets! - To Amazon, I cheer, and, with reckless abandon, purchase).

Research informed me that I need pink salt and pickling spice for my brine. So I purchased the pickling spice, knowing full well that I will doctor it with extra spices I have lying around (such as coriander, cumin, fennel, juniper, caraway, mustard seeds, bay leaves and black mustard seeds). Because some is good but more is better. I also add pink salt to my cart- pink salt being sodium nitrate (also called Prague Powder); not that fancy pink Himalayan salt.

Sodium nitrate is what will keep corned beef nice and red rather than all tan and sad after being simmered for 3 hours. It also inhibits the growth of some scary bacteria that can kill you, which I consider a plus. You can certainly purchase pre-brined corned beef, but I take a certain pride in brining it myself. Plus you can tweak your pickling spice to your taste and have a corned beef that is all your own.

The brining process take about 7 to 10 days, so it does require little planning ahead. You must pair the corned beef with a traditional New England boiled dinner to get the full experience. It is a meal I look forward to every year; I hope you’ll love it too. Enjoy!

Corned Beef Brine Recipe:
From Meathead Goldwyn

4 lb beef brisket, round, or flank, 1.5 inches thick, trimmed of fat
1 gallon of water
8 oz of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of pink curing salt
1 cup of brown sugar
5 tablespoons of pickling spice
4 to 5 smashed garlic cloves

Mix the water, kosher salt, pink curing salt, brown sugar, pickling spices and garlic in a pot. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt and turn off the heat. Bring the water to room temperature and refrigerate. Once cold, pour the water mixture into a very large bag that will accommodate the volume of liquid and meat. Add the meat and take out the air and seal the bag. Put the bag into a large container. Leave to brine in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. 

Traditional New England Boiled Dinner

Brined beef brisket, around 2 lbs
2 tbsp spoons pickling spice
1 head of cabbage, cut into 8 pieces with root attached
4 carrots, cut into large pieces
1 rutabaga, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 lbs of boiling potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks ( I used red)

Rinse your brisket very well. Place into a large pot with picking spice and plenty of water to cover the meat. Put a lid on the pot and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 190 degrees F and fork tender.

Put the potatoes, rutabaga, carrots and cabbage into a large pot with plenty of water. Salt the water and bring it to a low boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender, drain from the water, and add knobs of butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain the meat from the water and allow to rest. Slice the meat against the grain. If you slice the beef with the grain, it’s going to be long, stringy tough strands of muscle fibers. Go against the grain and that meat will melt in your mouth.  Make a plate of vegetables and meat. Serve with butter, vinegar, and whole grain mustard. Enjoy!


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