How to Make Corned Beef: starting with a packaged product and then making my own

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by schmoozer, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Last week I had some corned beef at a neighbor's house and decided that it's about time I make my own, and would like to start the learning process by purchasing a prepared package to cook up myself. I did this once about 25 years ago and the results were terrible, which may be the reason I've not tried it again. So, perhaps someone can give me some pointers on how to best prepare a package prepared beef.

    What cut should I be looking for? Brisket or something else - round? Is the meat already "cured" and all that I'd need to do is boil or simmer it, or does the meat need to be marinated a while? The packages I've seen have small packets of spices included. Do I use those spices to marinate the meat or just dump them into the cooking liquid? Is there anything else that might be added, or needs to be added, to the cooking water besides the spice packet? Does the meat get cooked in plain water, or would adding some broth be helpful? Apart from rinsing the meat, should it be soaked to remove excess salt, etc.? Does the meat get boiled or is it simmered? On the stove top or in the oven? If in the oven, at what temperature and for how long?

    Once I've done this a time or two I'll try making it myself, and will start looking for a spice recipe - anybody (BDL?) got one for a Jewish-style corned beef.  The recipes I've seen call for pickling spice.  What's in pickling spice?  Is it a standard mixture or are there different mixtures that can be used with, of course, different results?  What mixture might be best for a NYC Jewish style corned beef?

    Thanks for any help.  I'm missing a good corned beef.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Schmoozer,

    I've got a very detailed recipe up on my site -- one with a lot of explanation.  Won't you take a look at it?  If you have any further questions, either about my recipe specifically or about corned beef in general, I'll be happy to answer them here or there.  The offer isn't gratuitious either -- please do ask.

    Paranthetically, there's also a recipe for soda bread you might want to look at.

    BDL
     
  3. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Thanks for the response.  This recipe/technique looks like it's an "Irish/St. Patty's Day" type of corned beef, yes?

    Whipped cream on corned beef?!  Never hoid a sucha thing - might be interesting to whip up a small batch and give it a taste.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  4. gonefishin

    gonefishin

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         Ohhhhh...corned beef is so goooood /img/vbsmilies/smilies/talker.gif  (that's an eating corned beef smiley)


      (in a nutshell)  I like to score the brisket and set into a roasting pan and pour one Guinness Stout .  Next I'll mix up my own pickling mix and crush to a powder with my mortar and pestle.  I sprinkle the spice mix on top of corned beef and spreading the rest into the liquid.  I'll turn the heat up in the oven for 30min or so...just so you get a little bit of color on the top of the brisket.  Then I lower the temp, cover and cook until it's near slicing tender.  I finish by removing the top to finish the color and get the fat crisped up, just a little.  

       What I call slicing tender?  Tender enough that it is  fork tender, but still can be sliced @ 3/16" and keep it's shape without breaking.

        dan
     
  5. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    BDL - I use the same kind of sauce on my corned silverside too - not with whipping cream, but Greek Yoghurt.

    Schmoozer - I do my corned beef differently, but there are lots of variations to any recipe out there.

    This is for 4-6 servings.

    Take a 3-4 pound corned piece of beef, into a stock pot with cold water to just cover, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Skim when needed.  Once the skimming seems done, replace that water with fresh cold water, again to just cover the joint.  Add:  one brown onion studded with whole cloves, say 10.  Add 2 Tbsp white vinegar, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 10 peppercorns, 3 bay leaves, 1 biggish chopped carrot (no need to peel).

    Bring up to the boil, then simmer for approx. 20 minutes per pound.  Just until you can feel it is soft by sticking a sharp knife into it.  Drain, rest under foil for ten minutes, then carve and serve.

    I cook my vegetables separately - usually baked/boiled potatoes, buttered & sugared carrots, minted peas, sometimes french runner beans.  And lots of the sauce/dressing as per BDL's website.  Not a big fan of cabbage here, but you could certainly do some with it, that, or brussel sprouts.  Roasted onions (either whole pickling onions or quartered larger ones) tossed in oil, S&P, then onto baking tray in hot oven till soft and brown.

    Hope this helps /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  6. teamfat

    teamfat

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    I'm one who prefers to oven roast a corned beef rather than boil.  I think more of the flavor stays in the meat instead of being dissapated in the boiling water.  But the boiling water does add flavor to any veggies you might also cook, so that is one benefit of boiling.

    mjb.
     
  7. cabosailor

    cabosailor

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    Ours is done in the slow cooker and finished in the oven with a mustard glaze.

    We never have had to worry about leftovers but then again I doubt there are many, if any, leftovers from the recipes posted above.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

    Rich
     
  8. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Your recipe, and a gazillion others, call for pickling spice.  Please, please, pretty please, tell me what's in the pickling spice you use, or what pickling spice you use if it's a commercial brand.  Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010
  9. oldpro

    oldpro

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    McCormick has a pickling spice that is labeled as such.  Not all stores carry it.  I used it recently in BDL's pastrami recipe. 
     
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Schmoozer my brother,

    Sure.

    Pickling Spice:  

    Whole allspice, whole black pepper corns, whole cloves, whole juniper berries, whole mustard seed, whole (dry) sichuan pepper(s) -- cut in half, crumbled bay leaf, crumbled mace, and sometimes a couple of pieces dry ginger,  

    That said, if you're buying a commercial corned beef they usually come with a pack of pickling spice, which if not identical to my recipe is close enough for government work.

    Considering that there are some very good commercially made and packaged corned beefs available for less than the price of good, raw brisket -- as an economic proposition it's not really worthwhile to make your own.  But if you decide to do so, it's actually fairly simple -- the hardest parts are getting good meat to begin with and the three weeks or so of waiting.

    About my recipe:

    It's different on a number of levels.  Very few published recipes call for using stock (or Better than Buillon) to make the broth.  Very few, if any, call for balancing the saltiness with both bitter (beer) AND sweet (molasses).  Very few call for completely replenishing the vegetables.  Very few help you to time the doneness of the meat by removing it while the fresh vegetables cook .  Very few if any, go into enough detail to teach you to cook the corned beef to the right stage. 

    My recipe isn't so much a recipe per se, as it is a cooking lesson which teaches something about mirepoix, "boils" in broth, balance, and staggered staging.  My thought is that once you know how to cook, it's easy enough to figure out what to cook.  But I like to think my recipes are pretty good too.

    The sauce itself isn't all that original, if original at all.  Rather, it's fairly typical of Ireland and Great Britain and hardly unknown in the former Empire.  My tweak, such as it is, is to use both mayonnaise and whipped cream.  It's usually one or t'other.

    Yes, the recipe is Corned Beef AND Cabbage -- the type of "boiled dinner" we Americans associate with St. Patrick's day.  If you want to make a corned beef for sandwiches you make it the same way -- up to adding the potatoes, fresh vegetables and cabbage.  Instead, you just keep simmering until the corned beef is tender, slice and serve without the broth. 

    You can also smoke a corned beef;  But trust me, if you do want to smoke cured beef, it's really it's better to pastrami than to do a straight corn.  And, you can slow roast a corned beef in the oven as well.  But smoking or roasting, any dry preparation is going to require a considerable pre-cook soaking in fresh water (or milk if you're made of money) to help remove the excess saltiness imparted by the corning process.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  11. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    I purchase prepared corned beef and cook it in the pressure cooker.  I look for the largest cuts, between 4 and 5 pounds.  After trimming all visible fat,  brush it with good brown mustard, then place it on a cooking rack or steamer pan (colapsable vegetable steamer works well).  Put in 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Water, beef broth, Guiness...it's your choice.  Lock on the lid, and when full pressure is reached, turn down the burner to just the heat needed to maintain pressure.  Time for 35 minutes.  When time is up,  remove from heat and allow pressure to drop naturally (no cheating please).  You will find the meat to be tender, moist and delicious.  Be sure to cut across the grain.  Be careful with salt.  This meat is typically very salty because of the curing. 

    If you are making a full dinner,  first cook the meat and remove it to a serving platter & cover it with foil to rest.  Then place your vegetables (potatoes-quartered, carrots-cut into chunks, sliced onion and cabbage) into the steamer basket over the same liquid used to steam the meat.  Lock on the lid and bring to pressure.  Reduce heat and time for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop naturally. 
     
  12. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  13. dicey

    dicey

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    you must have it with homemade mustard sauce!!!!
     
  14. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Schmoozer,

    I like all your ideas; but in terms of resurrecting the East Side deli corned beef of your youth, as opposed to more gentile flavor profile, don't get complicated -- pastrami is complicated, CB straightfoward.  Forget the beer, and no cloves.  While I can't recall ever being aware of even a hint of garlic in a CB sandwich, that doesn't mean it isn't an outstanding idea.  Ditto the peppers. 

    Even the mere thought of cooking a big piece of brisket just for sandwiches is wonderfully luxurious and decadent.      

    Do it.  Darn you.  Do it.

    BDL
     
  15. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Thanks for the encouragement.  I bought some CB this afternoon and am getting ready to prepare that puppy, so your message came at just the right time.  Can't wait to see how this Slab-O-Beef TM turns out.

     I wasn't sure about the garlic, but I do like it, so maybe a little will add something special to this creation.  Anyway, this is just a practice run to learn about flavor profiles and cooking time and techniques before getting a Piece-O-Brisket TM and running around to make my own spice blend and spending a few days brining the meat.

    I'll let you know how it turns out.


     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2010
  16. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Why must I have it with home maded mustard sauce?  Do you have a recipe for such a sauce?  I've never made a mustard sauce?  What's in it?
     
  17. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Well, I did it, and was not happy with the results, but that's OK because I learned a lotta good stuff.  I think the biggest problem was the CB itself.  Plans were to get the meat at one of two places from which I've tasted the results, which were satisfactory.  However, I just happened to be at a Trader Joe's yesterday and they had CB for a pretty good price.  So, rather than running across town, I got the TJ's beef.  It was not very flavorful, and the piece I got was trimmed in such a way that it was very narrow, one could say thin, at one end, and thick at the other.  The package masked that defect - at least I'd call it a defect - and meant that the meat needed some special attention to cook evenly.  Further, the package described the meat as "uncured."  WTF is that?  Isn't the nature of CB to be cured?

    I brought the meat to a boil on the stove top and then put it into the oven, after skimming the scum.  And, foolishly, the pepper was added before the scum formed and the skimming process began, which meant thatr I lost a few peppercorns during the skimming process.  Nerxt time I'll skim first and then add the peppercorns and any other ingredients.

    The meat went into the oven at 325-deg F, and either my thermometer was off or that Le Creuset pot really transfers heat like nothing I've encountered.  After a few minutes I checked the contents and the liquid was boiling instead of slowly simmering.  Ultimately, I dropped the temp to 250-deg F, and that's where I'll cook it next time.  Question: does black transfer heat better than other colors?  It seems that my white LC didn't get the liquid so much on the boil.

    The pepper was a good idea, and the amount of garlic used was such that it added no discernable taste to the meat.  The next time I make CB, the meat will be purchased elsewhere, and I will bring the water temp up a bit slower before putting the pot into the oven at a lower temp..  I spoke with my neighbor who made some pretty darned good CB a few weeks ago, and we're going to get another CB later this week or next.  He's a good chap to help me select the meat as he was in the meat business for many years, so he knows what to look for.  I can learn a bit from heim, and you know what they say: "The more you know the better your luck."   Hopefully, next time I'll have better luck.

    Oh, one other thing.  The meat turned out a bit stringy in some areas, and other parts of the meat were gorgeous and very tender.  However, slicing the meat gave mixed resulds.  Some slices were great and others looked like they were butchered with a machette.  Yikes!  What happened?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  18. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I did one today in the pressure cooker for the first time. I think it's one of the better ones I've done.
     
  19. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    Yep.  I think that's the only way to go, not only for saving time,  but for better results too.  As Schmoozer discovered, all corned beef is not the same.  I prepared corned beef dinner for my daughter on March 15th, using meat I had purchased at Sam's Club.  While it looked nice,  and had less fat than I usually encounter,  it was probably the saltiest CB I have every had.   Because CB is typically very salty as a result of the curing process,  I never add salt,  so this was already in there.  

    Had I known this beforehand,  I'd have soaked it the day before, refreshing the water several times to get rid of some of the brine.  Or, an alternative would be to cover, bring up to the boil for several minutes,  drain off that liquid and start again with fresh water.  When you find a product you like,  stick with it.  Kroger brand is much better than Sam's Club. 
     
  20. gonefishin

    gonefishin

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       I'm not a fan of cooking the corned beef in water, but I do like your idea about soaking it before cooking (while changing water several times)

      thanks,

      dan