Corned beef. Or, as my people like to say, a third method to cook brisket. But then, some might say it’s the second method, if you’re not one to swoon over a nice smoked brisket with a zippy barbecue sauce. But I digress already.
If you’re like most people, you’re both looking forward to, and dreading, making your own corned beef. For years, you’ve probably followed a family recipe of buying a corned beef that’s already been brined, and then boiling it in water until all of the flavor is gone, then serving it with cabbage. You start out with the thrill of anticipation, and end up with the agony of de meat. I can help you.
The first thing you want to do is to buy a corned beef from a butcher who you like and trust. That’s because he (or she!) will have either pickled the beef themselves, or had it done for them using their own recipe. The next thing you want to do is to throw out any flavor packets that might come with the brisket. These packets are filled with sometimes-questionable seasonings that are supposed to give the beef flavor. Instead, make up your own seasoning. Or better yet, use this recipe, which was dropped on my doorstep a zillion years ago. This will give you amazing flavor, and make all of your guests happy. And make sure you make extra. The sandwiches and corned beef hash that will come from the leftovers will make you happy for days.
One thought about the color of the cooked corned beef: if you’re from Boston, or other parts of New England, you probably grew up on grey corned beef. If you’re from everywhere else on the planet, you only know the nice red corned beef. If you accidentally get the one you’re not used to, don’t think the meat has gone bad. Just cook it, and enjoy it. The flavor will still be great.
If you think you’ll be gone all day when you want to cook it, you can also prepare it in a slow cooker. It’ll take at least 6 hours, on low, for 3 (or so) pounds. It might be 8 hours for 4-5 pounds, which you’ll have to cut into two pieces to fit into the slow cooker.
If you want some more pointers, check out my recent appearance on Mass Appeal, on channel 22 in Springfield, MA. Trust me. The little bit of extra effort you put into this corned beef will be hugely worth your effort.