Every year on St. Patrick’s Day my family goes the traditional route and has corned beef and cabbage. Am I Irish? Well, I do have Irish ancestors, but if you look at my picture you know I am not Irish! But everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right?
This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to brine a meat, and being March the meat was corned beef. Corned beef is made from beef brisket, which is also delicious smoked or braised. This picture is of a whole brisket, which weighs around 16 pounds. When you buy a brisket in the supermarket, you will usually get a piece that is about 1/2 the size. Briskets are traditionally sold as the “first cut” which is the flatter part of the brisket, and the fattier “second cut”.
I cut my brisket in half, and used the first cut portion for corned beef. The second cut is still in the brine, and will be turned into pastrami. And yes, I will post the recipe for the pastrami too.
I often brine chicken and turkey before roasting, but I had never corned beef. I checked out a few different recipes, went to the store to get fresh whole spices for my pickling spice, and got to work. Brining time ranged from 4 days to 4 weeks. I got a late start on my brine, because the first week of March disappeared somehow. I brined my brisket for a week, which was more than enough time for the flavors to penetrate the meat.
After you take the brisket out of the brine, rinse it well to remove the spices and extra salt. Place your brisket into a large pot, pour in a bottle of ale or stout, the fill the pot with water so it covers the brisket by at least an inch. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook the brisket for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.
If you want to have a traditional boiled dinner, remove the corned beef from the liquid, and add potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Cook the vegetable until they are tender, then return the sliced corned beef to the pot.
I decided to do my version of a Reuben Sandwich, which has corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. I call mine the Ruby Sandwich after my daughter. It had corned beef, sweet and sour caramelized onions, Horseradish-Caraway Mayonnaise and Swiss cheese. I love a good Reuben, but I think I love the Ruby more!
The make a Ruby Sandwich, slice a fresh roll in half. I used a sourdough roll. Spread both sides of the roll with a good dollop of Horseradish-Caraway Mayonnaise, then place sliced corn beef, some Sweet and Sour Caramelized Onions and a slice of Swiss cheese. Pour yourself a cold beer and enjoy!
Sweet and Sour Caramelized Onions
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 TB butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Place the onion, butter, sugar and salt into a small saute pan. Slowly cook the onions over low heat, until lightly browned. Add the vinegar, and cook another 2-3 minutes until the vinegar is absorbed. Let cool before using.
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 TB horseradish, depending on how strong you like it
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Can be made ahead, and stored in the refrigerator.
2 TB mustard seeds
2 TB whole allspice
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 cinnamon stick
Mix the spices together and seal in an airtight container to store. This is an all purpose pickling spice mix, and can be used for almost any pickle recipe.
Corned Beef Brine
7-8 cups water (depending on size of brisket)
1 bottle dark ale
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup pickling spice
1 1/2 TB pink curing salt
1 TB caraway seeds
1 tsp Tellicherry peppercorns
Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Place your brisket into a large pot or resealable plastic bag, then pour the brine over the meat. Be sure the brisket is submerged, cover or seal, and place into the refrigerator.