Home Corned Beef


Growing up, corned beef was a treat in my house.  Simmered on the stovetop or braised in the oven with potatoes, carrots, and onions, I could not wait to eat that salty, preserved goodness.  I was fortunate enough to grow up on a farm where we raised our own cattle.  When we slaughtered a steer, my dad always ask our butcher to corn the briskets and a couple of chuck roasts.  But we still only had three or four for the whole year, so when my mom cooked corned beef, it was a treat.  Little did I know how long it would be before I ate quality corned beef again.  After seeing the “corned beef in-a-bag” concoctions at the supermarket, I had to make my own.

Over the years I’ve tried several corned beef formulas, from Julia Childs’ corned pork or beef, to old-time pioneer type corns, and most recently Michael Ruhlman’s excellent corned beef recipe.  I’ve used prepackaged pickling spices, made my own, used sodium nitrite or not, but honestly, they were all darn good.  I like the warmer style spice combinations that makes me think not just of the pickling, but of smoke and woods and exotic treks.  I also like to use sodium nitrite, as it lends that “cured” flavor that just can’t be replicated.  I encourage you to be creative with your spices!  Mix something up to suit your taste.  I’ve been toying with a South East Asian style corned beef, filled with yellow curry and hot chile peppers, reminiscent of the beef Mussaman curry I had in Thailand.  And then there’s pastrami, a pepper and coriander coated, smoked corned beef, which is next on my list.  Imagine the possibilities...


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