Brined My Own Corned Beef (67/366)

"No, Kitty - this is MY corned beef and cabbage!"
Eric Cartman, South Park

St. Patrick's Day is coming, and last year Nick wanted to make his own corned beef, but didn't realize how long it would take so he didn't get to do it. We both love corned beef and I know Nick was disappointed he didn't get to have home-cured corned beef last year, so I decided to do this for us this year. I got a recipe from the awesome Alton Brown (we love that guy), and asked Nick to bring home some brisket.

Here are the key players in the brine:

Allspice berries, black peppercorns, Juniper berries,

cloves, bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, mustard seeds,

And finally, some ground ginger, and the trinity: salt, brown sugar, and the lovely pink, special curing salt:

Everybody in the pool!

After all the salt and sugar is melted, remove from heat and add the ice (2 pounds). When you choose your pot be sure you have enough room for this extra quart of liquid (a pint is a pound, the world around - something Alton likes to say - and it's true!). Also don't forget that water expands when it freezes, so the cubes will raise the level of the water initially to higher than what just a plain quart of water would. I loved
Mr. Wizard when I was a kid.

After the brine is cooled down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (I had to put mine in the fridge for a while), it all goes into a 2-gallon zip top bag (be sure you find a thick kind - and double bag!). The recipe calls for a five pound brisket, but those are sometimes difficult to find, so Nick brought home two that were around three pounds each. More meat!

All this loveliness goes into the fridge (as close to the bottom as possible, so it stays the coldest but also so the brine doesn't contaminate any other food if there's a spill (another good idea is to put the whole bag in a container big enough to contain all the liquid in case there is a bursting mishap). The brisket(s) will swim in this delicious brine for 10 days (remember to check on and flip the bags over daily to ensure even brining). On St. Patrick's Day, we're gonna have a Corned Beef feast! Can't wait!

Related Links:
Hi-Country Snack Foods Domestic Meat and WILD GAME Curing Salt - 18g Cure Packs - 24 Ct.
Juniper Berries, 1 oz.
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