“The corned beef is exquisitely done, and as tender as a young lady’s heart, all owing to my skilful cookery; for I consulted Mrs. Hale (Sarah Hale’s cookbook) at every step, and precisely followed her directions. To say the truth, I look upon it as such a masterpiece in its way, that it seems irreverential to eat it. Things on which so much thought and labor are bestowed should surely be immortal…..”
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1844), fending for himself while his wife was away.
It all started 7 days ago with the “annual corning of the beef day” as we call it and who knows how many pounds of corned beef I make each year, but certainly enough for a crowd and more for the freezer as it keeps nicely when tightly wrapped and sealed. This year the day that I made the corned beef brine I use the last chunk from the previous year for another tradition if a piece makes it through the year, Reuben sandwiches.
I ordered the pink salt online some time ago, but most areas still have a butcher or sausage making store that will sell it…The Charcuterie recipe for corned beef produces consistent results, so I don’t mess with a good thing. Here’s the link for the recipe and a link for the pink salt:
Today we have the corned beef dinner, doesn’t every Italian?
I love apricot horseradish mustard glaze and today I made a little extra and simmered it with white wine to serve with the beef instead of a horseradish sauce that I usually make for corned beef…So the cabbage is braised and the carrots are steamed and seasoned with butter, parsley and citrus salt, and finally the potatoes, steamed, bathed in butter and parsley, should be a fine meal. Braised cabbage is next. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
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
1 tablespoon ground mace
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
2-4 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
For the brine
1 gallon water
2 cups Morton’s kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
5 teaspoons pink salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons pickling spice or you can use store-bought
One 5-pound well-marbled fresh beef brisket
2 heaping tablespoons pickling spice (above or store-bought)
Make the pickling spice
1. 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.
2. Combine the cracked spices with the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container or glass jar.
Make the brine
1. Combine the water, salt, sugar, pink salt, garlic, and 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.
2. Place the brisket in the brine and weight it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 5 days. I brine the brisket in a big zip bag and turn it every day for 5-7 days.
3. Remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it thoroughly under cool running water. (Resting is not required here because the distribution of the brine will continue in the long, slow cooking process.)
Cook the beef
1. Place the brisket in a pot just large enough to hold it and add enough water to cover the meat, but adding more water will draw out more salt. Add the remaining pickling spice (I tossed in 1 carrot in three pieces, 1 celery rib and half an onion) and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about 3 hours, or until the brisket is fork-tender There should always be enough water to cover the brisket; replenish the water if it gets too low.
2. Remove the corned beef from the liquid, which can be used to moisten the meat and vegetables, if that is what you’re serving. The corned beef slices better if when allowed to sit, wrapped and cooled down, but slice it after a 15 minute rest if you like. I sometimes cook the beef a day ahead if I make more than 5-6 pounds, tightly wrap and refrigerate. Since I make the apricot mustard glaze the brisket is reheated in a 350° oven for 35 minutes.
Apricot Mustard Glaze
1 cup sugar-free apricot preserves
1 cup horseradish mustard
2 Tablespoons butter
*1/2 cup White wine for second glaze/sauce
1/2 cup preserves, 1/2 cup mustard and a tablespoon, whisked and heated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Place the brisket fat side down on a shallow sheet pan and spread glaze over brisket, roast at 350° for 30-35 minutes, rest a few minutes before carving brisket. Heat the remaining butter, preserves, mustard, and white wine, whisk until the wine cooks down a bit about 4 minutes or so or until you have a nice sauce consistency, serve with the corned beef.
Adapted from Molly Stevens’ All about Braising
1 large yellow onion (about 8 ounces) — thickly sliced
1 large carrot — cut into 1/4-inch rounds, or 4 baby carrots
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes — or to taste
Coarse sea salt
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish (9-by-13-inch works well).
2. Trimming the cabbage: Peel off and discard any bruised or ragged outer leaves from the cabbage. The cabbage should weigh close to 2 pounds If the cabbage weighs more than 2 pounds, it won’t fit in the baking dish and won’t braise as beautifully. To remedy this, cut away a wedge of the cabbage to trim it down to size. Save the leftover wedge for salad or coleslaw. Then cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. Arrange the wedges in the baking dish; they may overlap some, but do your best to make a single layer.
3. The braise: Scatter in the onion and carrot. Drizzle over the oil and stock or water. Season with salt, pepper, and the pepper flakes. Cover tightly with heavy duty foil, and slide into the middle of the oven to braise until the vegetables are completely tender, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Turn the cabbage wedges with tongs after 40 minutes, add a little more stock if the pan is too day. Don’t worry if the wedges want to fall apart as you turn them; just do your best to keep them intact.