Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rosie's Corned Beef Brisket.

I apologize I didn't get this post out in time for St. Patrick's Day.
As it was, I didn't even make it until March 18, and didn't eat any until the 19th.
The Teeter had their brisket on sale for $2.99/pound. In case you didn't know, brisket is the chest muscle of the cow. Since it gets such a good workout from walking around and standing, this cut is tough but flavorful. Your butcher receives the whole brisket from meat processors and trims the whole briskets into flat cuts and point cuts. The flat cut is long and thin with a thick layer of fat on top. It's generally the cut you will find in stores. The point cut is thicker and smaller. It's marbled with more fat and connective tissue than the flat cut. There's a lot of flavor here, but not as much meat. This cut usually gets ground into hamburger.
This is my point cut. Of course, it has the requisite pound of fat left on it for me to pay for.
Carefully tease the fat off the meat.
OK. So it wasn't a pound. Now, how does one cook brisket? Meat is made up of muscle fibers, connective tissue, fat, and water. Muscles that are exercised more than others are tough with thick muscle fibers and more connective tissue. Meat that has consistently been exercised is cooked different than a "lazier" muscle. When meat cooks, the fibers shrink as water evaporates and fat melts out. You're losing both moisture and flavor, but the heat also dissolves tough connective tissue. With a tough cut of meat like brisket, one must find a cooking balance - long enough to break down the fibers and connective tissues, but not so long that the meat dries out. This is done with a method like braising. Braising is a technique in which tough cuts are gently simmered in a deep pan with a little liquid. The pan is covered, creating a steam bath. Moisture surrounds the meat, but it's much gentler than boiling. Boiling occurs at 212 degrees. In braising, the temperature is lower, about 185 degrees. This allows you to braise the meat longer because it doesn't cook as quickly, giving it more time to tenderize. Originally, corn beef was boiled to leech out some saltiness. But the salt along with some flavor ended up in the water. With braising, some saltiness is released into the liquid, but the fibers are relaxed enough to reabsorb the liquid and reabsorb flavor. During the braising of my corn beef, I poured the water out three different times, after each hour of cooking and poured in fresh water. Changing the liquid during braising allows you to keep the flavor pumping back into the meat, without all the saltiness. I'm starting out with a rub for my corned beef.
Ingredients for the rub:
4 TB brown sugar
 1 tsp black pepper
 1 tsp cloves
 1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients together.
This is an intense spice mixture which I'm going to rub on the beef before braising. It's hot, and the spiciness is a nice contrast to the salty meat.

Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the brisket.
And rub your meat!
I try to aspire to Pauler's meat-rubbing abilities but I'm not there yet. Maybe with practice.
Add 2 cups cold water down the side of the baking pan, being careful not to wash off any of the rub. Uh oh. Do I need to tell you to let the vessel with the corned beef in it to cool off before you add the cold water? Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
After one hour, remove from oven, and pour out braising liquid.
Pour another 2 cups of cold water down the side of the pan. Cover and bake for another hour.
Notice the shrinkage. After the second hour, remove from oven, pour out liquid, and add 2 more cups of water in. Return to oven for the final (third) hour of baking.
Remove from oven, pour off liquid, and turn oven to 450 degrees. Now for the glaze.
Ingredients for glaze:
 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
 2 TB soy sauce
 1 TB Dijon mustard
 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Mix all ingredients ...
... and brush the sweet-hot glaze over corned beef. Return to 450 degree oven and bake for 15 more minutes.
And you end up with a caramelized, brown coating that's perfect against the spice and salt.

Truth be told, I've never had corned beef prepared any better than this method.

Slice thinly.
Toasted rye bread with thin slices of corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, a brush of Dijon mustard on the rye, some potato chips in the sandwich for crunch with a slice of dill pickle on top.
Sweet. Sour. Salty. Spicy. Savory. It's all there.

Bon appetit!
For Sunday breakfast,
Mr. Hawthorne made corned beef hash. He tiny-diced potato, onion, and corned beef, and cooked the potatoes in a little butter/oil for a few minutes before adding in the onion and corned beef.
Corned beef hash on toasted rye with a sunnyside up egg.

Oh yeah. That's some good eats.


Marilyn said...

Next time I'll have to send my husband over to your house so he can have some corned beef. Just kidding!

Anonymous said...

I love this recipe, made it last week. Next time, I will add the foil before glazing, still trying to get that mess off my clay cooker.

tortietat said...

The hash is my favorite part!

dle said...

Next year I will use this recipe...becuase I made absolutely the worst corned beef and cabbage this year!

Marilyn said...

All right, Rosie, I tried your recipe and you made a corned beef believer out of me. I had never met a corned beef I liked before this one. Next time I might try roasting the corned beef with the glaze on the grill outside though, as my downdraft fan doesn't work!