It’s time to start corning your beef!
I read somewhere that Corned Beef was adopted by Irish immigrants who landed in New York and couldn’t find the cured pork bacon they remembered from back home, so they cured beef instead. That theory is kind of ridiculous, given that cured and smoked pork was prevalent amongst the new Americans of European descent, particularly from Poland or Hungary. On top of that, Ireland has a rich history of corning beef, going back to the 1600s. Surely there were pigs available in the 19th century in New York, but for whatever reason cured Irish bacon (cut from the loin) never gained popularity. Corned beef, on the other hand, was hugely popular, and to this day is thought of the national food of Ireland. Declaring that to an Irish person will probably earn you a swift kick in the bollocks, but hey, we’re from the land of cultural appropriation and what we say goes! Also, corned beef is delicious, especially when prepared in the following manner, surrounded by good friends and family, pints upon pints, and a tin whistle or two.
Start this recipe a week before you plan to serve it.
4 L water
4 whole garlic cloves
1 ¼ cup g salt
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp curing salt
3 Tbsp pickling spice (divided, see note)
1 (4–5 pounds) beef brisket, flat cut end
1 medium onion, cut in medium dice
1 large carrot, cut in medium dice
1 celery stalk, cut in medium dice
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 cup milk
¼ onion, thinly sliced
3 whole cloves
2 dried bay leaves
1 Tbsp butter, cold
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup hot braising liquid from the corned beef
1 cup finely chopped curly parsley
2 tsp English mustard powder
- In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the garlic, salt, sugar, curing salt, and 2 Tbsp of the pickling spice, whisking to dissolve the salts and sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Place the brisket in a nonreactive container and cover with the brine. Set a small plate on the brisket to weigh it down and keep it submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 7 days, checking periodically to make sure it’s still submerged. If needed, place another plate on top to weigh it down further.
- After a week, discard the brine and soak the brisket in cold water for about 2 hours, changing the water every 20 minutes to rinse off the excess salt.
- Place the brined beef in a pot large enough to hold it without crowding, cover with cold water, and add the remaining 1 Tbsp pickling salt, the onions, carrot, celery, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Do not add salt. Bring the brine to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and allow to gently simmer until the meat yields when pricked with a fork, about 4 hours. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
- While the beef is simmering, prepare the parsley sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk with the onions, cloves, and bay leaves. When the milk begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes to infuse.
- Melt the butter in a separate pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously to blend. Allow this roux to cook just until golden, about 5 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then very slowly and gradually whisk it into the roux, until the sauce is emulsified.
- When all the milk has been added, whisk in the hot braising liquid. Add the parsley and mustard powder, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and purée in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Pour the lovely green sauce into a gravy boat.
- To serve, slice the corned beef and arrange on a serving platter. Serve hot with the parsley sauce alongside.
To make your own pickling spice at home, combine 2 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds , 1 Tbsp whole allspice, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 2 whole cloves, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp chili flakes, 2 bay leaves, and 1 cinnamon stick.