For this charcuterie challenge, I bought the largest hunk of beef I’ve ever purchased in my entire life. I walked into my local favorite butcher’s (Laurenzo’s Italian Market in North Miami Beach) for a 5.5 lb. beef brisket, and walked out the proud owner of 16.68 lbs. of solid beefy delight.
Why, you might ask? My butchers are great guys. I’ve been frequenting Laurenzos for about 3 years now, and I will never go back to buying regular grocery store meat. These guys consistently have better quality than the large regional chain in this area, and they love what they do; they are passionate about the meat they sell and happy to teach you what to do with it. And that, my friends, is something I can get behind fully. We talk about how I’ll be preparing the meat I’m buying, discuss the pros and cons of any particular cut I may be eyeing, and my butcher knows what kinds of cuts I prefer; he always picks out the leanest cut closest to a pound without even having to be asked. They can also special order just about any critter under the sun if I need it; usually in a week. 5 lb. standing rib roast in the height of the Christmas season? No problem! Give them a week and you’ll have the most beautiful standing rib roast on the block.
So, when the butcher suggested walking out with (gulp!) over 3x the meat I requested, I listened. When buying the whole kit & caboodle, the price was $2-something a pound. If I wanted just the first cut (the brisket part), it would be over the 5 lb. I wanted and over $5 a pound. They suggested just getting the big piece and freezing what I don’t need for later. Buying the big piece not only saved me money up front, I now have enough brisket to corn, and 2 more briskets to BBQ.
Followers of this blog will notice that this is not the place I bought the pork belly for fresh bacon from. Why? I’m impatient and thought pork belly was lying about on trees. I know better now.
On to the corning.
The first thing I did was take my lovely hunk o’ beef and broke it down into smaller packages. 1 big roughly 5-6 lb. slab to corn and 2 smaller roughly even portions to BBQ later.
Note: This hunk of beef was so frickin big, it took not 1 but 2 cutting boards to hold it Now that’s beefy love.
The brine I used to cure the beef consisted of store-bought pickling spice (I couldn’t for the life of me find the mace called for in Ruhlman’s home made recipe), my new friend pink salt, my old friend kosher salt, sugar & garlic.
Submerge beef & wait (patiently if possible) 5 days and viola! A hunk of vaguely creepy-looking drowned beef.
The full recipe for this method of corning can be found on page 67 of Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.
I served the inaugural taste of this heavenly beef with a side of simple roasted purple potatoes and onions and it was devine. Screw cryo-vac corned beef. Next up: corned beef hash and sandwiches.