St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Brisket

This year, I was looking to make my first corned beef brisket to share with my two sons on St. Patrick’s day. The recipe was just published in the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated (March/April 2016), including a 6-day brine. Unfortunately, I did not buy the special pink curing salt (sodium nitrite) in time; it needs to be purchased online. So instead, I bought one of those ubiquitous pre-packaged briskets that appear in my supermarket around St. Patrick’s day. The beef is suspiciously inexpensive; I am not sure how more than two pounds of brisket can cost a total of only $7.

Traditional St. Patrick's Date fare; at least in NYC

Traditional St. Patrick’s Date fare; at least in NYC

By starting with a pre-packaged, pre-brined brisket, I am not sure how accurate my 4-star rating can be. Of course, home-brined briskets will be far superior that my pre-packaged brisket. Never-the-less, I was happy with the overall technique used in the recipe and will try to order the curing salt well ahead of next year’s St. Patrick’s Day feast. 4-stars, but the jury is still out on the final rating of this recipe.

Comments:

  1. If you do not use pink curing salt #1,  your brisket will be grey instead of pink.
  2. While not called for in Chris Kimball’s original recipe, I caramelized some of the fat cap before cooking. It added great flavor and improved the overall texture of the fat cap.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $12. (including $7 pre-packaged brisket)
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 4:00 pm  Ready:  7:30 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The general descriptions of how to prepare it are given below, but I did not brine by own brisket this year:

Brine Ingredients:
4-1/2-to-5 pound, flat-cut beef brisket
3/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  1. Trim fat on surface of brisket to 1/8 inch. Dissolve salt, brown sugar, and curing salt in 4 quarts water in large container.
  2. Add brisket, 3 garlic cloves, 4 bay leaves, 5 allspice berries, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon coriander seeds.
  3. Weigh brisket down with plate, cover, and refrigerate for 6 days.

Cooking the Brisket:
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoons peppercorns

  1. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 275-degrees.
  2. Remove the brisket from brine and rinse under cold tap water to remove any excess salt. Use paper towels to pat dry.
  3. Brown fat-side of brisket in Dutch oven over high burner for 5 minutes until nicely caramelized.
  4. Prepare a spice bundle by cutting an 8″ square of cheesecloth. Peel 3 garlic cloves. Put garlic, 2 bay leaves and 1 tablespoon peppercorns in the center of the cheesecloth, and use kitchen twice to tie into a bundle.
  5. Add brisket, 2 quarts of water and spice bundle to a Dutch oven; it’s okay if the brisket does not lie completely flat. Cover pot and put over a high burner until it comes up to a simmer.
  6. Move to oven and bake for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until you can easily insert a fork into the thickest part of the brisket.
  7. Remove Dutch oven from oven and turn off oven. Set brisket in a large oven-safe platter, and pour 1 cup of the cooking liquid over meat. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the turned-off oven.

Vegetable Ingredients:
6 carrots
1 head green cabbage (2 pounds)
1-1/2 pounds small red potatoes

  1. Peel your carrots and cut them in half cross-wise; then slice the thick-ends in half lengthwise into long, equally thick slices. Do not peel your potatoes.
  2. Set the Dutch oven over high burner and add your carrots and potatoes. Bring up to a simmer over high burner. Reduce burner to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  3. Cut your cabbage through the core into 8 wedges. Add wedges to pot, and increase burner to high until the pot comes up to a simmer. Reduce burner to low and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, covered, until all the vegetables become tender.
  4. Meanwhile, set the beef on a cutting board and slice against the grain into 1/4″-thick slices, returning the slices to the platter. Use a slotted spoon to add the vegetables to the platter. Add additional broth to platter and serve.
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3 Responses to St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Brisket

  1. Karen says:

    I have been making Corned Beef (from CI’s The New Best Recipes) for years. Homemade Corned Beef is superior in complexity of flavor and texture of the meat. (Duh!) I highly recommend making it next year.

    P.s. I never use ‘pink salt.’ In TNBR, the state it creates a “sharp and somewhat chemical” flavor. I wouldn’t bother ordering it; just make it without it. #grayisthenewpink

  2. Lynn says:

    I made my own corned beef for the first time this year, using the CI recipe. As Karen mentioned above, I didn’t bother with the pink salt, either. We also cooked a packaged corned beef and did a side-by-side comparison. Everyone agreed the home-made beef was far better. I was very surprised there was such a difference. I’ll never buy the pre-packed stuff again. I just have to remember to start the brine a week ahead!

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