curing corned beef

With assists from Michael Ruhlman and The Spice House, I began curing a brisket this past Saturday for St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday.  I used Ruhlman’s recipe, which calls for corning spices and curing salt (a.k.a. InstaCure #1, Prague Powder #1, pink salt, or by its chemical name: sodium nitrite), both of which I got via mail order from The Spice House in Chicago.  It’s essentially a long, slow brine, so you have to know ahead of time that you want to do this.  I almost didn’t have enough time as the spices and curing salt arrived on Friday afternoon.  In fact, I didn’t have enough time for the dry-brined corned beef I had intended to make (it sits for 8 days).

The cooking of the corned beef is also long and slow (it’s a hard-working muscle on a cow and needs time for its collagen stores to turn into gelatin).  It can be boiled/simmered (very traditional), braised, dry-roasted, or poached sous-vide.  The last method is how I’ll be cooking it: 180F for about 10 hours on the day of.  I’ll then broil the fat cap for a few minutes, mainly because brown food tastes good.  I plan to simmer the requisite cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in the reserved juices (supplemented by chicken stock if need be) to accompany the brisket.

Finally, some home-made rye bread and soda bread will be served with spicy mustard and a few Harps to wash it all down with!

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