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Corn Your Own Beef

Time, not effort, yields top-notch results

We find corned beef at delis, restaurants and at this time of year in groceries ready to boil for St. Patrick’s Day. This year I made it at home.
    Do-it-yourself corning is neither complex, expensive nor labor-intensive. The challenge is finding the right containers for curing and cooking the beef. And maybe finding the refrigerator space.
    There is nothing magical about the brisket. The traditional weight is six to eight pounds, but the recipe is just as successful with a smaller piece of meat.
    Whatever size piece of meat you start with, you will need a plastic container (think Rubbermaid from the hardware store) big enough to hold the meat submerged, enough refrigerator space to keep this container for six days then a pot big enough to boil it.
    The one uncommon ingredient is pink curing salt, also known as Prague Powder or No. 1 salt. Chemically it’s sodium nitrite, which helps flavor and preserve the meat. Don’t confuse it with Himalayan pink salt, which is table salt with red coloring. I ordered a package on Amazon. You don’t need much.
    This recipe makes enough curing solution for an eight-pound brisket. Scale it down for a smaller piece:

4 quarts water
¾ cups table salt
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons curing salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled
6 bay leaves
5 allspice berries (whole)
2 tablespoons peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (whole)

    Mix the ingredients in the container, put in the meat, weigh it down with a plate to keep it submerged and set it in the fridge for six days. Shake it every day to mix, and turn the meat over halfway through.
Six Days Later …
    Take the meat out of the cure, rinse it and put it into a Dutch oven or any pot big enough to hold it. Wrap three peeled garlic cloves, four bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon of peppercorns in cheesecloth tied with twine and add to the pot. Simmer on the stove for two and a half to three hours. Or, even easier, put the pot into a 275-degree oven. It’s done when a fork easily goes in and out.
    Remove the meat from the pot, saving the cooking liquid for your veggies. Keep the meat warm and moist while it rests. Add your favorite vegetables to the pot. Cabbage (cut a head into eight pieces) is the traditional accompaniment for corned beef, but carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips are good, too. Stagger the start times so each vegetable gets the proper cooking time and all are ready together.

Time for Yummy
    Drain the veggies, slice your corned beef, serve and enjoy.