Into the Brine

The brisket went into the brine yesterday. I’m a little behind on the 5-day soak, but somewhat intentionally. We’re away this weekend and aren’t planning to have our corned beef and cabbage until Sunday night. That, and we don’t normally have it on St. Patrick’s Day itself anyway, a Scottish family quirk for sure!

This is a basic 5% brine with kosher salt, pink salt, brown mustard seeds, crushed garlic cloves, chili flakes, cloves, allspice berries, and a cinnamon stick, pretty close to Ruhlman’s recipe. I cut the brisket in half, and both pieces are happily swimming in a tub in the back of the fridge. And as much as I’m looking forward to the corned beef and cabbage on Sunday night (with Suzanne Goin’s excellent green parsley sauce from Sunday Suppers), I’m psyched to have leftovers for breakfast hash on Monday or Tuesday. I might also smoke the smaller piece for pastrami, and if we make a loaf of rye bread put together a nice little Reuben from scratch.


About Scott

occasionally-bearded teacher/musician/cook
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5 Responses to Into the Brine

  1. Pingback: St. Patty’s Leftovers, and a New Tradition? | Smoke Cure Pickle Brew

  2. culturedsf says:

    Got your link from Rhulman’s blog. I like your post on curing lamb bellies. I hope someday to be able to smoke something I’ve cured. Seems like there might be limits to what one can do in a studio apartment:(
    I wondered if you had ever tried using celery juice to cure a corned beef. Why do I ask this? Well I read on Rhulman’s blog about curing Chuck roast instead of Brisket and I happened to have one in the fridge and I didn’t get nearly enough corned beef this St. Patricks day. Trouble is I didn’t have enough pink salt for the cure. Poking around the internet yielded a crazy picture of briskets soaking in this green liquid! They had done a cure using Celery juice instead of pink salt. Wow! I guess I knew it was possible cos that’s how they do all that “nitrate free” bacon right;) It seems to be working but I haven’t cooked it yet so don’t know how it will be. The color is good so far. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  3. Scott says:

    Thanks! I haven’t used a celery juice cure before. I’m curious about it, since nitrates are nitrates, but I’m not sure how the concentrations of celery juice correspond to an equivalent concentration of pink salt in the brine. So I do like the accuracy of knowing how much is in there. Do you know if anyone out there has compared the two approaches?

    I used slightly less pink salt in the corned beef brine above – 13 grams in 2 L of water, down from the 25g that I usually put in for that much water — because I also ran out. But a 4-day brine soaked all the way through, and the color and flavor were right on. Good luck with your chuck roast. I’ve had success with corning a venison roast, beef tongue, and brisket, so I imagine the chuck will turn out well if it’s had enough time to soak!

  4. culturedsf says:

    Here’s the link to that cure.
    I know what you’re saying about exact amounts and proper cures. I am concerned to get it right, but after risking botulism by consuming my own home canned meat and living to tell the story I feel emboldened to try more things. lol
    PS I used organic celery and I drained some yogurt for the whey part.

  5. Scott says:

    @culturedsf, Thanks for passing that on. It’s interesting to me that people want the benefits of the nitrates (flavor, color, antibacterial properties), but are resistant to use nitrates in the form of pink salt. I mean, if I didn’t want ANY nitrates in there, I’d be okay with making a gray corned beef. That makes for a perfectly respectable boiled dinner, you know. So the only problem I have with the general idea of using celery juice for curing isn’t because it’s from a vegetable, or that I don’t like celery — I do like celery — but that people insist on calling it “nitrate free.” (The same goes for the “uncured” hot dogs and other cured meat products on the market.) I might actually try the celery bath thing, either for curiosity’s sake, for a side-by-side comparison, or in a pinch, if I was out of pink salt and didn’t want a gray boiled brisket. But I won’t call it nitrate free. Thanks again for the link and for your comments.

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