Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Corn Beef / Corn beef and cabbage

To Corn Beef
Combine and stir well:
8 cups water
1 cup salt
3tbsp sugar
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1 minced clove garlic
2tsp mixed pickle spices
5 or 6lbs beef brisket or rump
Cover it with a plate and place a heavy weight on it. Leave the meat in the brine for 36 hours.

This part is way easy, and takes no time to do.

Corned beef and cabbage
Tie to keep in shape:
A 5lb piece of corned beef
Place the beef in cold water to cover. Add:
6 peppercorns
1/2 clove garlic
Bring to a boil, remove the scum, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 5 hours, or until it is tender. You may have to add more water to keep it covered.
Peel, quarter, and add for the last half hour of cooking:
3 onions
3 carrots
Cut into wedges and add for the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking:
A head of cabbage
Serve the beef surrounded by the vegetables.

I have had trouble finding corned beef out here. Once in a while I see a can of it, but a good fresh corned beef is not readily available. I had been wanting to make one myself for a while, but I couldn’t find a recipe for it that didn’t use saltpeter. I finally found one that is safe and saltpeter free in my new/old 1950’s edition of Joy of Cooking.

I read somewhere that the reason that it was called corned beef was because they used to use really coarse salt to brine it with. The size of the salt grains were about the size of corn kernels, and the name just stuck. I don’t remember where I read that, so I can’t grantee that it’s true, but it’s interesting.

This is all incredibly easy, it’s just very time heavy. There is little actual work involved, but you have to think about it two days before you want to eat it, and you have to be around for the five hours it’s cooking in case the water needs topping up. If you are going to be home one day anyway, then this is the easiest dinner you’ll ever make.

I was hoping for left-overs because I wanted to try my hand at Ruben sandwiches and Corned beef hash, but I was only able to find little 2lb cuts of brisket. I just found out where the good local butcher is, so I am going to try this again (it was that good), with a proper sized piece.

Just for the record, in case you are not familiar, Rubens are the best sandwiches in the world. They are made with Corned beef and sauerkraut and Russian dressing, on good rye bread. Unfortunately you can’t really get corned beef, or Russian dressing, or good rye bread, so it’s going to be quite a project. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

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