Have you heard? It’s Boston’s favorite holiday this weekend. While I’ll be missing the sloppy Southie parade this Saturday to squeeze in a few final runs up at Jay Peak, I will not be missing out on corned beef and cabbage. This Wednesday we are hosting our Second Annual St Patrick’s Day Potluck, the preparation for which began last week, when Laura, Tal, and I started brining our grass-fed organic and Kosher beef brisket.
Last year when I decided I would Take On Corned Beef… I had no idea how simple it was. Doing it yourself requires minimal time and effort, is less expensive than store-bought versions and far, far more satisfying. I’ll post the cooking results after Wednesday!
Homemade Corned Beef Brine
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Chacuterie
For the pickling spice
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons hot red-pepper flakes
2 tablespoons allspice berries
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
2 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
OR: buy 2 jars of pickling spice from the store, which is far cheaper than buying 9 individual jars of spices (and what I did this year)
For the brine
1 gallon water
2 cups Kosher salt (or 1 cup table salt)
1/2 cup sugar
1 ounce (5 teaspoons) saltpeter- if using (I omitted)
4 tablespoons pickling spice, (above recipe or store-bought)
One 5-pound well-marbled (first-cut) beef brisket
Make the Pickling Spice
Lightly toast the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet, then smash them with the side of a knife just to crack them.
Combine the cracked spices with the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container or glass jar.
Make the Brine
Combine the water, salt, sugar, pink curing salt (if using), and 2 tablespoons of the pickling spices in a pot large enough to hold the brisket comfortably. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the brine until it’s completely chilled.
Place the brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate. I like to use doubled-up a gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn’t leak all over your refrigerator, this happened to me last year…ew).
Place the brisket in the freezer bag and add about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 5-7 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.
Check back later this week to see the results!