this is what you start with
It really is not a difficult process you know? Making your own corned beef at home I mean. Now I am not talking about going down to your local grocer, buying a corned beef brisket going home removing it from the plastic bag and cooking it with cabbage and other vegetables of your choice. Nope I’m talking about starting with a fresh brisket of beef and corning it your self.
THIS IS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE
“Corned” beef brisket. Am I the only one that wonder why it is called corned? No recipe that I have ever seen either for the corning of or cooking of has even mentioned corn. After literally years of wondering about this, on occasion, I finally grabbed my electronic dictionary and looked it up. Corning comes from the old English meaning to salt. And They took that serious too, the salting, part I mean. Just about every recipe I have read calls for 2 cups of salt for a whole brisket. People that is 2 cups of salt for a piece of meat that at the most is about 10 lbs. Look out blood pressure here we come. That is why the first thing we do with a corned beef brisket is to throw it in a pot of water and boil the _____ (salt?) out of it.
I have made several. It is not hard and the recipes are readily available on the internet. Not just the cooking but how to make it as well. Just about all call for 2 gallons of water 2 cups of salt a couple of tsps. of pink salt, or salt peter, or some form of nitrites or nitrates, which is what these are. Keep in mind now the nitrites and nitrates are not only detrimental to our health but their sole purpose is to keep the meat with that pretty pink color we like to associate with corned beef. Add pickeling spices, either prepackaged or mix them yourself submerse the brisket in the brine stick it in the refrigerator for about 10 days to two weeks wash it off boil once to remove the excess salt, cook as you normally would and enjoy. I love corned beef!
So here has my been my problem. (was going to say dalima but I don’t know how to spell it) Pauline has a little high blood pressure. The Doc says salt, I wonder if it maybe is me, but Doc says salt, we will go with that. I have tried to cut the salt down but it doesn’t make any noticeable difference in the end product. My latest effort, about two weeks ago, I tried again. All my ingredients out and on the counter. Two gallons of cold water ready. One of the briskets from our last beef thawed and waiting and I am still thinking about the amount of salt. Then it hit me, we raise small breed beef. Small brisket, about 3 to 4 lbs. at the most. Cut the water and salt in half save space in the refrigerator as well and reduce the salt. So I did. Got it whipped. I cut the salt in half.
Ten days later I remove it from the refrigerator start it cooking about 5 hours before dinner, nice and slow, and go on about my business sure that all will be well and not salty. I cut the salt in half it has to have made a difference. Dinner time comes and it is still salty. Good but salty. As we are eating and I am thinking about Pauline’s blood pressure going up because of the salt and mine going up because it is still salty it hits me. I cut the salt in half right? Yes but I cut the water in half as well so the ratio remained the same. Then it also comes to me that most of these corning or brining recipes come from when the process was there for the purpose of preserving the meat over a prolonged period of time. Without refrigeration.
See they would put not only the briskets but other fatty and tougher cuts as well I presume in the brine and store it in root cellar or spring house to keep. These would keep the temperature at a 55 to 65 degree average if they were lucky allowing them to keep it in this high salt liquid for a few months at best. I on the other hand am not trying to keep it for months and if I do I have a refrigerator and a freezer.
SO? You might ask. Next time I am going to reduce the salt to a quarter cup per gallon of water to get away from the need to boil off salt and to not waste the additional salt. I may even cut the time down too and just brine it for a day or two. Why bother? It adds a different taste or flavor to the brisket and gives the spices an opportunity to permeate the meat.
All my life, or at least since I became old, or mature, enough to realize the tremendous responsibility that I took on when I first became a husband and a father and gladly did so I might add I have been somewhat enamored with the idea of being able to provide for my family should the big WHAT IF occur! You know something like: EVERTHHING IS CLOSED AND WE CAN’T BUY ANY FOOD. Boy wouldn’t that announce the end of the civilized world? The big focus for me has been the preservation of meat. Not that I am a big meat eater of course! I mean everyone knows that if you have not had a piece of meat to chew on you haven’t eaten! Right?
Well let’s take a look at it for a minute. How did they keep it back in the Good Old Days”? From my reading, mostly novels, and research, brief and limited as it is, it came down to 3 options. You ate whatever you had until it was all gone or spoiled beyond use. Or you either smoked or salted it, or a combination of both. That I believe was the reason salt was of such importance in our early frontier days. Not just the taste or flavor it adds to food but the preserving of it for later use. Sugar too is a preservative as well as several other spices but apparently the foods did not keep as long.
Do I plan to start preserving everything thing just in case? NO! That has never been the plan. But to have the ability to should the need arise? To be as self sufficient as is reasonably possible now and to do so for our own benefit and enjoyment now. That is the plan!
Here is 1 of many for you to check out. http://www.food.com/recipe/corned-beef-brisket-from-scratch-115220 I personally have not tried this one but it sounds interesting. I may try it next.
Try making your own! It may not save you any money or time but it will give you a whole new appreciation for it. Home smoked bacon over a good lite flavored wood such as apple or cheery, now that is definitely worth the time and effort. Look for that in the future. If you don’t see it remind me.