This week the supermarkets are going to be full of those already pre-packaged corned beef, ready to just throw in the pot. Some might be tempted to go that route. But those more adventurous people will brine their own corned beef. Doing it yourself will bring a better flavor and give you the ability to control your seasonings (like salt). Most recipes call for you to brine your corned beef for 7-10 days. Imagine that you have totally forgotten and now its the day before. You might think that going the pre-packaged way is your only option now. I am here to tell you different. There is a way to brine the corned beef, giving it great flavor in 24 hours. Want to know how?
Using a Dry Brine
Last Thanksgiving I gave Alton Brown’s dry brined turkey a try and I was amazed with the results. I decided to take that concept and test it out on corned beef. I went to the store and got myself about 3 pounds worth of brisket. The difference between the turkey and the brisket is that the brisket isn’t as thick and doesn’t have an outer skin. This would enable a shorter brine time. Brisket is a cut of meat that easily takes a brine better than other cuts.
Using a Needling Device
Before I applied my dry brine, I pulled out my needling device. This is a meat tenderizer (not one of those hammer things) that has a series of needles. You push down on it on top of the meat and it makes holes in the meat. These holes serve two purposes here – tenderizing the meat as well as helping the dry brine to penetrate the meat easier. You can buy one of these devices online or where I did at Cost Plus World Market. If you aren’t going to use one, then just skip the tenderizing step. I don’t recommend the hammer-like tenderizers. I think they tare more than tenderizer.
Applying the Dry Brine
This is just like applying a rub. You want to get good meat to dry brine contact. Aim to spread it evenly over the entire surface of the meat. Here is what I used for my 3 pounds of brisket:
|Dry Brine Ingredients|
|3 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt|
|1 tablespoon brown sugar|
|1 teaspoon dry mustard|
|1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon|
|1/4 teaspoon ground cloves|
|1/4 teaspoon ground allspice|
|1/4 teaspoon ground juniper berries|
|1/2 teaspoon ground ginger|
|1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper|
**NOTE** For the strongest flavor use whole spices when you can and grind them in a coffee grinder.
Dry Aging in the Fridge
I figure if I am going to be refrigerating this thing for 24 hours I might as well employ some dry aging. The salt is going to draw moisture out of the meat. If the meat has less water in it, then the flavor will be concentrated. This is what top steakhouses do with their steaks. What I did with the brisket is place it on a dry racking on top of my large cutting board (you could use a half sheet pan). I leave it under covered as I want to moisture to escape. Place in the back of my fridge away any other food. I place some paper towel on the board to absorb excess moisture.
Ready to Cook
After 24 hours, your meat is ready to go. Use your favorite recipe. I found the meat to be flavorful, even better that some that I have brined in the past for several days.