Corned Beef, from Curing to Boiling

Corned beef. Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? I am usually more of an eater than a maker, but with St. Paddy’s Day looming I wanted to be adventurous and take on making a corned beef dinner from curing to boiling. I enlisted the help of Eat Drink RI’s David Dadekian to enlighten me on the who, what and where of corned beef.

David’s first recommendation was to buy your brisket local. A few of his suggestions: Blackbird Farm in Smithfield, Simmons Farm in Middletown, Watson Farm in Jamestown or my favorite — Sunset Farm in Narragansett. If you cannot buy local, at least go chemical-free.

Next step? Brine it. Dadekian told me to check out Michael Ruhlman’s blog for a recipe, which is pretty basic: 1 gallon of water, 1 1/2 cups kosher salt, ½ cup sugar, 3 cloves of garlic and 4 tablespoons of pickling spice, which you can buy or blend yourself. Cook it until the salt and sugar disolve, then chill it. Add your 5-pound brisket to the solution, and let it sit in your fridge for five to seven days.

On cooking day, Dadekian suggests just throwing it in a pot with water and some spice. In the Dunleavy house it goes in the crock-pot with a bottle of Guinness. Another option Dadekian suggests is using a rack to steam it. Sounds a bit too MacGyver for me, but he did make the point that this option lets you cook potatoes, cabbage and carrots at the same time without them getting all fatty. After you cook it, a key to success is carving it across the grain. Dadekian explained that fibers should be kept short so they aren’t chewy (sounds reasonable).

My final question for the expert: When he is going out to get a good corned beef meal, where does he go? He says he likes Doherty’s, Murphy’s or Tara’s in Matunuck. I say the Wild Colonial’s corned beef cannot be beat. No matter how you eat it,  I hope you enjoy it. Slainte!

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