Charcutepalooza March Challenge: Brining Corned Beef

by Anne Maxfield on March 14, 2011

Accidental Locavore Corned Beef and Cabbage

How do you feel about corned beef? The Accidental Locavore is usually not a huge fan of brisket or corned beef, however this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is to brine either chicken,  pork, or for the advanced challenge, to make corned beef. I’ve brined a lot of local chickens, a turkey or two, and various cuts of pork, so Charcutepalooza members, watch out! It’s time to tackle corned beef!

Corned beef is one of those things I eat to be polite. Many friends of mine swoon over the idea of a corned beef or brisket dinner, not me. It’s the preparation; brisket is usually cooked to death (except for my friend Leslie’s…secret ingredient: a can of soda). Corned beef and cabbage or New England boiled dinner, the smell of the cabbage lingering for days…no thanks.

Accidental Locavore Charcutepalooza-smallSo when I saw this Charcutepalooza challenge I knew that at the end of five days, there would be a pot of goodness containing an amazing corned beef! Even before the brine cooled, good friends were invited for dinner. I’m thinking if I put a pot au feu twist on this, it should be delicious.

After clearing a rather large piece of real estate in my refrigerator, I set the pot with the brisket to brine for five days. Along with the Accidental Locavore Corned Beef in Brine Weightedplate to weigh it down, which seemed to just float in the pot, I added a 2 ½ pound weight from my dumbbell (what a good excuse not to use it for five days, right?).  Yesterday it was removed from the brine, thoroughly rinsed and simmered until tender.

What emerged? A beautiful piece of corned beef that might make a believer out of me. After the meat was removed from the pot, I added ½ an enormous (really enormous) cabbage cut into wedges, and some of the last of the local potatoes from my farmer and let them cook in the flavored stock for about 20 minutes. On the side, two kinds of mustard, and some of my homemade pickles from the summer.

Accidental Locavore Corned Beef SlicedThe verdict? My husband said it was the best corned beef he’s ever had. Our friend BJ seconded his vote, and would have had seconds but is on an only-one-serving diet. What about the locavore non-believer? It was awfully good, and except for needing way too much room in a New York City apartment refrigerator, certainly easy to make. Next step? When the weather gets warmer, smoking one…that’s pastrami if you haven’t been paying attention.

Check out the Friday blog for the recipe for the blueberry caramel sauce I served over vanilla ice cream for dessert. 4 ingredients guaranteed to put a smile on your face (and don’t forget, blueberries are a super food).

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