Wednesday, March 25, 2009
So this was the fifth annual St. Patrick's Day party and also the fifth time I've attempted home-cured corned beef. I'm pretty sure that this was the best so far, which makes sense. I've posted on the process for corning your own brisket before, but here's this year's version anyway and some pictures of the process. I combined 2 tablespoons each of allspice, cracked black pepper (not ground peppercorns, just cracked), dried thyme and paprika with 5 crumbled bay leaves and 1 cup of kosher salt. Mixed it all really well up together and set aside.I had a little over 7 pounds of flat-cut brisket--you can adjust the corning spices mixture accordingly if you have a lot more or less than that amount of meat. Get a fork and prick the brisket all over on both sides--at least 30 times per side. Then rub your salty spice mixture all over both sides of the meat. You really have to get all up in its business. Pack the brisket into plastic ziploc bags. I had to cut mine in half because it was too big to fit in one. And now...wait. About 2 weeks. Pack it up in the fridge and flip it over every day--I keep mine stacked on a baking sheet in case of oozing. I highly recommend getting a small dog to keep an eye on it for you.This particular time my brisket was able to corn from the day the water main broke at work so we all got sent home (March 4), to St. Patrick's Day (March 17). That was a pretty good length of time and I think that's why it was so good this year. Sometime while the meat is in your fridge it will make a magical transformation from being a cut of brisket covered in salt and spices to corned beef. It's a beautiful thing, really. Pull the now-corned beef out of its bag(s) and rinse it off.Let it simmer for about 3 hours, covered in water and 2 tablespoons pickling spices (I had to use 2 pots because I don't have one big enough for all the meat). When you have about 35 minutes left in your cooking time, add in 3 pounds of tiny golden potatoes or chunks of red potatoes. I usually put a pound of chopped carrots and onions in with the potatoes too, for flavor.At 20 minutes out from dinnertime, add in 2 heads of cabbage, cut into wedges. When everything is all cooked up, drain it off, slice the beef against the grain, pile it in the center of a platter and surround it with the vegetables (terrible picture, use your imagination).There is always something new every year at the annual St Patrick's Day feast. Rick always makes soda bread which is ridiculously delicious, and this year Katie made a delicious salad with green goddess dressing--perfect. And Byron and Michelle made Guinness ice cream which was amazing. It got even more amazing when Charlie discovered that you could pour Jameson over it and make a float. Oh, and check out the cupcakes! These are the same Guinness chocolate cupcakes with whiskey cream cheese frosting that I made last year for the first time.