How to cure brisket at home

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In the world of food there are some items we pay big bucks for. Aged cheeses, wines from far away vineyards in picturesque country sides, deep sea delicacies and cured meats. Quality is what we are looking for with the flavour fine tuned & executed to perfection. These items always seem on another level & in a kitchen far away from the domestic space. Envisioning recipes locked away within a family trust, & the process to complicated & drawn out to even consider doing it yourself. Thats why we generally end up paying the expert. But what if you could be that expert? What if it wasn't that hard & the end result was more satisfying than store bought?

One week ago I set out on a journey to cure my own brisket. One day ago I was handing out reuben sandwiches to eager friends. The labour of love was evident on everyones face when they bit into an aromatic slice of tender corned brisket. But the jokes on them because there was no labour, it was all groovy baby. 

So lets get to curing::

Ingredients::

Brisket flat (fat capped optional) Brisket is the ideal cut of choice for making corned beef.

20g brown sugar

80g white sugar

20g honey

100g sea salt

3 knobs of garlic

5g coriander seeds

20g pickling spice - cinnamon sticks, dried chilli, bay leaves, nutmeg, mustard seeds

Many of these spices make up traditional flavours associated with cured beef. Feel free to experiment with chilli, depth of flavours & other ingredients. For example juniper berries are used a lot when cooking with meats. 

1.5L hot water + Ice

1 bottle of flavoursome beer

20g curing salt/ Prague powder ( refer to the method for exact measurement resource)   

This is the magical ingredient that keeps the meat a nice pale pink colour as well as curing the meat itself. You can obtain this salt online or ask your friendly butcher if there is a local supplier, or he may even give you some in exchange for some cured brisket!

Utensils:

Scale + bowl

Small plate - small enough to fit inside the plastic tub

Spoon

5L food grade plastic tub ( do not use any metal as it may have a reaction with the curing brine)

Stove

Big pot/crockpot

Method:

1. Weigh out & place all the dry ingredients into the plastic tub. To get the accurate amount of curing salt for the amount of brisket you are about to cure refer to this online resource. It will tell you exactly how many grams of curing salt to use & how long it will take to cure your choice cut. 

 

2. Add 1.5L of hot water to the plastic container. Mix until the salts & sugars are dissolved. Add the ice to cool down the brine. You don't want to submerge the raw meat into hot water, otherwise it will begin to cook. 

3. Submerge the brisket in the cooled brine. Make sure it is completely covered. Place a plate or bowl on top of the brisket to ensure it is weighted down during the curing process. Place in the fridge for 5-10 days depending on the thickness of cut (refer to resource in step 1). 

Im going to be honest here...its really really hard to make a big ol' slab of raw meat look beautiful. So here are a few action shots. This is after the curing process. You will notice the flesh is a pale pink colour, this is what you are looking for. During the days of curing you will want to rotate the brisket, to ensure any sides touching the container are exposed to the brine at some point. 

The nitrate rich salt is moving at a cracking pace, curing 1/4" thick of meat per day. Its magical display of alchemy & boy will your tastebuds know about it. 

4. Once your brisket has cured; place it in a crockpot or pot on the stove. Cover in water & bring to the boil. Once boiling, pour a beer into the mix. Let it simmer with the lid on for 2-3 hours. After cooking let it sit & then place in the fridge. Cut it when cooled. 

Thats it. You did it. You made corned brisket with your own bare hands. You are an expert & damn does it feel good. Eat it just on its own ( trust me you will be addicted), take it further & make home made jerky or smoked pastrami or put it on a Reuben sandwich. Curing meat yourself opens up a world of possibilities & flavours that you can easily incorporate into your home space without breaking the bank.  

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How to cure brisket at home. DIY meat curing.