Thursday, March 9, 2017

A St Paddy's Special Home Corned Beef

St Patrick's Day is next week and it's a day of corned beef accompanied by boiled potatoes and of course, green tinted beer. It's a traditional meal but not necessarily a tasty one.Thanks to bad cuts of beef and nasty corning methods, it would come out as a gummy, overly salty slab.That's changing, thanks to both professional and home chefs salting it themselves.

Sam Sifton wrote about this classic Irish -American dish in yesterday's New York Times Food section.The best corned beef comes from New York's Jewish delis where it shines. The meat is a ruddy pink, perfectly salted and fatty. Home chefs now can have this delicious version  According to Bryan Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman, authors of "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing" the process is easy , and will turn ordinary beef into something extraordinary.The process is an old one, starting in the 1800's, in where else - Ireland.The process is named after the large grains of salts that resembled corn kernels.  Curing and.packing plants throughout the Emerald Isle used them to cure slabs of beef that eventually went into barrels and then cans and onto ships to feed others.Someone , either in Boston or the Bahamas,  over boiled either a beef neck or brisket with a head of cabbage and called it dinner. That's the corned beef and cabbage we all grew up on.

That version of it will change with home brining and curing. The only reason home corned beef never caught on was the scarcity of the corns, These are sodium nitrate, that turns the meat that tender shade of pink.They can be found on Amazon under the name Prague powder or curing salt. Originally it was used for forestalling the growth of bacteria but it also gave plain beef a better taste. For those worried about ingesting nitrate, have no fear. Mr. Ruhlman  says ingesting a small amount is harmless, noting that we ingest nitrates when we eat vegetables which draw nitrogen from the surrounding soil. It's then creating a brine with it and whatever spices are desirable.. Home chefs could try coriander, mustard seed and black peppercorns,. Allspice will give it a zippy, smoky flavor as well ground ginger and cinnamon. Bay leaves are good too. The recipe Mr. Sifton gives has pickling spices, which is all those spices aforementioned along with garlic cloves and sugar. A four to five pound  brisket is used and is brined for four to five days. It is then cooked in a blend of beer and ginger beer.A novel idea is turning it into Irish tacos with shredded cabbage that have a jolt of jalapeno. - which is a whole lot better than having a slab of it with a boiled potato.

Home cured corned beef is the perfect treat for Saint Patrick's Day. Brine it the right way and it's a salty pink delight , perfect in a sandwich or as a taco. Enjoy it with a good stout or Guinness for the holiday.

No comments: