brine

Making Smoked Pork Tenderloin

by Anne Maxfield on April 24, 2014

Accidental Locavore French CharcutrerieWhile the Accidental Locavore and her husband were in Nice, we had to taste almost every piece of cheese or charcuterie that we saw. One of the highlights from Lou Froumaï, a great new shop, was a piece of what they called smoked pork filet mignon. It was unbelievably good! My husband gave me a week to recreate it at home, so I went right to work. I used my electric smoker for this.

 

For the brine:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Chopped garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence (optional)
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 ½ pounds)

In a large pot (tall and deep is good), add the water, salt, sugar, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer and stir to make sure all the salt and sugar are dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Put the pork tenderloins in the cooled brine, weigh down with a plate, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the pork from the brine, and rinse it off really well (otherwise it will be salty). Pat dry with paper towels. Place on the lower rack of an electric smoker and smoke for 4 hours. Remove from the smoker, let cool, serve thinly sliced and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Smoked PorkMy verdict: For a (jet-lagged) first attempt, this was pretty good! Of course, I suspect the French have better pigs, so it’s probably time to go hunting for some heritage hogs. I used hickory to smoke the tenderloins and it seemed to work well; next time I might try it with some apple. We’ve just been eating it sliced thinly, occasionally with a bit of coarse mustard and some cornichons. I brought it to a party the other night and it was a big hit! Don’t you think that it would make great sandwiches, eggs Benedict, pasta carbonara – acting like a cross between bacon and ham. Use your imagination and give it a try!

 

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From Brisket, to Corned Beef, to Pastrami

by Anne Maxfield on March 13, 2014

Accidental Locavore Corned Beef and CabbageIf you have a piece of brisket, the Accidental Locavore knows there’s a lot you can do with it. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and in honor of nothing in particular (maybe that I can finally access my smoker?), here’s how to take that brisket and turn it into corned beef and/or pastrami. It’s very easy, you just need to give it some time to brine and if you’re looking for corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day, get to work! This is from Michael Ruhelman’s Charcuterie. Weights are given here, because if you have a food scale, this is a really good time to use it. If you don’t, go buy one! If the thought of all this corned beef or pastrami is too tempting, you can use a smaller piece of meat and halve the brine ingredients (but it freezes really well!). I’ve also make pastrami using beef tri-tip or lamb shoulder, both equally delicious.

For the corned beef brine:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 cups/450 grams kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar
  • 5 teaspoons/25 grams pink salt*
  • 1 tablespoon/8 grams Pickling Spice plus 2 tablespoons/20 grams for cooking the corned beef
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-5 pound brisket, well-marbled

Accidental Locavore Corned Beef in Brine WeightedCombine all the ingredients except the brisket in a pot big enough to hold them and the brisket (and fit in your refrigerator). Bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and cool to room temperature. Place the brisket in the brine, with a plate or something to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 5 days.

Remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it thoroughly under running water. Place the brisket in a pot just large enough to hold it, add water to cover the meat and add the additional pickling spice. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 3 hours until the brisket is fork tender. Make sure the water always covers the meat, if not add additional water until it does. Remove the cooked corned beef from the liquid, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Pastrami SandwichNotes: I usually forget about making corned beef and turn it into pastrami. To do that, add ½ cup dark brown sugar and ¼ cup honey to the brine. Brine the meat in the same way, but only for 3 days. Remove the brisket from the brine, rinse very well and pat dry. In a small frying pan toast 1 tablespoon coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon black peppercorns over medium heat, until they are just starting to be fragrant. Grind them in a spice mill or coffee grinder until coarsely ground. Rub evenly over the meat.

Hot-smoke the meat to an internal temperature of 150°; on my smoker it’s about 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 275°. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan filled with 1” of water. Bring it to a simmer on the stove-top, then cover with aluminum foil and cook for 2-3 hours until it’s fork tender. Serve and enjoy!

*Pink salt is a curing salt and not the Himalayan pink salt you might come across.

 

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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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Accidental Locavore Pickled VegetablesThere’s not much that the Accidental Locavore won’t attempt food and cooking wise, but pickling, and canning scare me. Last Sunday, I decided to confront that fear, and make the Armenian pickles that my mother used to make. Armed with a dozen jars, I called mom and got a couple of her recipes. This is what I did:

  • First I cut up some pickling cucumbers and cauliflower that were in a recent farmbasket.
  • They soaked in salted water (brine) for 2 hours (while I ran out to get the jars).
  • Each jar gets a clove of garlic, and a 1″ piece of hot red pepper (I used serrano chiles since I had them), and a small handful of coriander seeds. I also had a little pickling spice so I tossed that in too.
  • Fill the jars with your vegetables. I had a lot of veggies from the farmbasket, so I used the cucumbers, and cauliflower, some green beans trimmed, strips of yellow peppers, carrots, and pearl onions. The original recipe also calls for green tomatoes, but since I was trying to use what I had…
  • Top the jars with a sprig of fresh dill
  • Heat 3 quarts of water, 1 quart of vinegar (I used 2/3 white vinegar, and 1/3 cider vinegar), and 1 cup of kosher salt to a simmer. Remove from the heat and fill the jars to the top.
  • Let them sit for 3 weeks.

I also put the sealed jars in a water bath, brought that to a simmer and let them simmer for about 10 minutes, but my mother later told me that wasn’t necessary. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how they turned out. Have you ever made pickles? How do you do them?

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