Corned beef is a simple three step process of selecting a nice brisket, trimming it up and putting it in a brine. Itís also the first part of the same process used for making Beef Bacon or Pastrami. Once youíve mastered the art of brining the brisket your on your way to making Beef Bacon or Pastrami! Okay letís get started!
Start with a fresh brisket. I like to get big cryo-packed briskets. This one started out at 11 pounds before trimming.
I also like my corned beef some what lean. Not much fat so I trim them a little closer than most people do.
Then I separate the flat from the point. Again this isnít necessary if you donít mind a layer of fat in the middle of your sandwich but I canít stand fat!
You can actually see were the two pieces of meat come together - right where that huge solid piece of fat is! If you grab it really tight and pull it will almost separate it self. You just need to tap a scarp knife where the pieces are pulling apart. Let the meat hang and keep slicing at the two pieces as it falls away until they are completely separated.
That big piece of fat goes all the way though the meat so as long as you stay between the fat you wonít make a mistake separating them and waste any meat.
Now you can decide if you want to turn both pieces into pastrami or save the point for smoking (it makes the best burn ends).
Making the brine
The brine uses the more types of spices than the rub believe it or not.
1 gallon cold water††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††
1 cup kosher salt
3 oz white sugar
6 bay leaves (crumbled)††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† †††††††2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons juniper berries (crushed)†† ††† †††††††2 teaspoons black peppercorns
* Prague powder #1 (by meat weight * NOTE: †this is what gives meat that pinkish color and prevents bacterial build up while smoking for long periods at low temperatures. If you plan to smoke you should use it!)
** If you donít have or donít wish to use nitrates† you can use Ĺ ounce of cream of tartar per Ĺ gallon of brine to help maintain that pinkish color in brined meats.†††††††††††††
Juniper Berries are optional but I think it gives it a nice flavor and thatís what makes it Italian! Juniper berries were originally used by the Romans as pepper.
A good source for juniper berries is Con Yeager Spice Company. I buy most of my spices from them in 1/2 gallon containers. I saves me a fortune not having to buy by all those tiny $1 bottles and the freshness is wonderful!
Mix the spices together in a pint or so of hot water to dissolve it well then add the rest of the water, mix well then add the meat.
Pump/inject meat with brine every few inches up to about 10% of it dry meats weight and refrigerate in the brine for 5 to 7 days.
This is a good time to use vacuum sealer if you have one, if not just put a heavy plate on top of plastic wrap to keep the meat fully submerged during the brining process and keep air from hitting the meat.
After 7 days in the brine remove the meat and rinse in clear cold water to remove excess salt. Do this for about 20 minutes or it will be VERY salty. DO not forget this step. Any time your brine food it MUST be rinsed in clear clean water, beef, pork, chicken or cheese it doesnít matter rinse it off after a brine !
Now we have a corned beef
You can stop here and eat it as Corned beef
Smoke that corned beef and it becomes Beef Bacon.
Add a nice black pepper, coriander and juniper berry rub then smoke it and make Pastrami.
If you plan to smoke the meat be sure you have added the Prague powder!
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