Monday, March 4, 2013

Corned Beef Part 1

I have a confession....I have never before made corned beef from scratch.  I usually buy it at the grocery store pre-made and all you have to do is cook it.  I haven't bought it in several years because I never know where the meat comes from or what exactly those spices were.  I bought this cookbook called "Real Food Fermentation - Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in your Home Kitchen" by Alex Lewin.  In this book it has a recipe for homemade corned beef.  I thought I would give it a try, after all Saint Patrick's Day is right around the corner.

Corned Beef
1 beef brisket flat, approximately 2 pounds
3 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar, or caloric sweetener of your choice (rapadura, muscovado, molasses, and brown sugar are good choice)  - I used brown sugar
3 tablespoons pickling spices - I used a pre-made mix that I picked up at the local co-op (look below for what it contained)
1/2 cup whey (see below for recipe)
1 cup non chlorinated water

1. Pierce the brisket many times, quite deeply, with a metal skewer or other long, sharp object.

2. Mix the dry seasonings in a bowl and then rub them into the brisket.  Place the brisket in a bowl or jar.

3. Mix the whey with the water, then pour mixture over the brisket, making sure that it is completely submerged.  If you need more liquid, make more brine using 1 cup water, 1/2 cup whey, and 3 tablespoons salt.  (I had to make more brine at least 3 times to properly submerge the brisket)  (I used a bowl upside down to keep my brisket from floating and staying submerged).

4.  Cover the bowl with a cover of some sort or close the jar.  (If you use plastic wrap, make sure that the plastic is not touching the meat or the liquid).  Allow the meat to sit for a day at room temperature, turning every several hours and making sure that the meat remains submerged.  Then refrigerate for at least a day and up to 2 weeks.

**Pickling Spice contains - (all organic) - yellow mustard seeds, cinnamon chips, whole allspice, dill seed, celery seed, bay leaf, mild chilies, cloves, caraway and ginger root.

Brisket in dish with brine

with the bowl on top to keep the brisket submerged

1 quart plain yogurt (I used a very high end plain organic yogurt)

Equipment needed: Fine cheesecloth (if possible find cheesecloth that is not bleached with chlorine), large fine-mesh strainer, mixing bowl or pitcher to suspend the strainer over, wood spoon (optional).

1. Moisten the cheesecloth with chlorine free tap water, and lay it on the inside of the strainer.  (by moistening the cheesecloth ahead of time, you minimize the amount of whey that the cheesecloth absorbs.

2. Put the strainer over the bowl or pitcher (I actually used a glass jar, like you would use for sun tea).

3. Scoop, spoon or pour the yogurt into the strainer, and let it drain.

4.  When the yogurt has drained a bit, you may, if you wish, try to tie the ends of the cheesecloth around the handle of a spoon in such a way that it can continue to drain into the bowl or pitcher.  If you don't do this, then cover the strainer with a plate or something similar to keep foreign objects out of the yogurt. (I did this because the weight of the yogurt in the cheesecloth will hang off of the spoon will help it to drain).  (I let my yogurt hang overnight on the counter).

5.  When the yogurt has thickened, put it in a sealed container and refrigerate it; it will continue to thicken as it cools in the refrigerator.  Put the whey in the refrigerator, too.  Consume them both within a couple of weeks, although they may last longer.  When they have started to go bad, you will know because they will get slimy or moldy.

Whey. what you get when the yogurt is strained.

This is what you get once the whey has been strained out.  This is what you call Cream Cheese.
Use this on bagels or anything else you might use cream cheese for. 

I apologize for not having a picture of the yogurt straining in the jug or hanging on the wooden spoon.  I thought for sure that I had taken a picture.  If you have any questions about this, please feel free to leave your comments below and I will answer them.

Make sure that you check back and  look for Corned Beef Part 2 sometime around Saint Patrick's Day when I cook the beef and have a "what I call" a traditional Saint Patrick's Day dinner.

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