Here's the cure . . .

Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:38 am

Please excuse this posting for being kinda long. Just trying to get everything in here.

It turned out surprising good for my first attempt at pickling meat and was better than any corned beef we've purchased from the stores. So here's what I did to get from fresh eye roast to a corned beef dinner for at least 12 hungry gluttons.

I started with a 5 lb eye roast because it was on sale, so I picked out the leanest one in the case.

The Pickle

¾ cup non-iodized salt
1 ½ Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cracked peppercorns
1 teaspoon cracked allspice berries
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon powdered sage
1 teaspoon paprika
4 crumbled bay leaves
1 diced onion (the stronger, the better)
2 grated carrots
6 minced garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon cloves
1 Tablespoon celery seed
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon black pepper

Mix all the pickling ingredients together in a large (2 ½ gallon) freezer zip-lock bag. Trim the visible fat from the roast and put it in the freezer bag with the pickling spices. You don't need to add water, the salt will draw moisture out of the meat. Squeeze and knead the spices all over the roast for several minutes without breaking the bag. Force all the excess air out of the bag and seal it. Write the start date on the bag with a Sharpie and anything special about that particular roast worth noting for when it comes out for cooking.

The Cure

Put in the refrigerator, squeeze and knead it twice a day for at least two weeks. You cannot pickle it too long, so don’t be alarmed when it turns grayish brown and gets hard and rubbery – that’s the action of the salt preserving the meat.

If you don’t like the idea of the meat turning brown, add 1 teaspoon of saltpeter to the pickling spices (available from a pharmacy) and the meat will continue looking like fresh meat. I don’t use saltpeter because it adds a chemical that isn’t so good for human consumption, in spite of what the USDA thinks.

The Meal

After several weeks of curing, it’s time for planning a meal. Remove the corned beef from the bag and rinse the spices off. Soak it in cold water for 24 hours, fully immersed – change the water every 8 hours - to remove excess salt from the roast.

To cook the corned beef, cover it with water and add:

1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery stalk
1 chopped onion
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 Tablespoon thyme
4 Bay leaves
5 sliced garlic cloves

Bring to a slow boil and reduce to simmer for around 3 hours. I kept the heat lower and let it cook slowly for about 12 hours for a really tender roast. The roast is done when you can insert a thin knife or meat fork deep into the roast without much resistance. I wrapped the roast in foil (with a bit of the broth) and let it cool in the refrigerator before slicing – it cuts best when cold and you can get very thin slices. In the meantime I cooked cabbage and potatos, then carrots and parsnips in the hot broth.

The Leftovers

Aside from reheating everything for another meal, my favorite is a nice hot Reuben sandwich.

For Reubens, I'm fixing up a mess of sauerkraut – get homemade or the refrigerated style in the plastic bag. Rinse the kraut and put it in a baking pan with 2 cups apple cider and sliced kielbasa. Cover with foil and let it bake all day in a 175 degree F oven. A couple slices of toasted seedless rye bread, swiss cheese, hot kraut and several slices of hot corned beef makes a great sandwich. Oh yeah, use 1000 island dressing if you don’t like ketchup.

Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:48 am

Looks like you've missed your calling. 8)

Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:17 pm

Here's an update to my corned beef.

The pickling stayed the same but altered the cooking recipe slightly. Three water changes left the beef tasting a bit bland so I figured on making a few changes.

I pulled out an eye roast that had been curing for 6 weeks. Instead of soaking 24 hours in 3 water changes before cooking, I drained the brine out of the bag (left the spices in with the meat) and put a pint of fresh water in. Let the roast soak for 1 week in it to draw the excess salt out. Leaving the spices in saved the flavor.

I added the identical spice mix into the cooking water as for the pickling, leaving out the salt and brown sugar.

Much better flavor - the longer curing time may have something to do with it also. But the edges don't taste bland!