Monday, January 3, 2011

Home-cured Corned Beef by me

We had this big beef brisket from last year (I wish I'd taken a picture of it, it was probably 18-24 inches long!) that we'd been saving for the purpose of making home-cured corned beef, after I'd seen a post on the Nourished Kitchen blog about it.

You can follow her instructions on there, or there is a recipe in Nourishing Traditions, as well. I followed both...yeah, it's usually hard to pin me down to one recipe. In the NK's recipe, it talks about curing the meat in the fridge. But I cured the meat for 3 days on the counter at room temperature, as it says to do in NT. I know, that would give most people pause... you did WHAT with raw meat? But the presence of whey, in which the meat was totally submersed, helps to combat bad bacteria that would cause the meat to spoil. I put a plate on top of meat with a glass jar filled with water, and a couple other heavy things on it to make sure it was pushed underneath the liquid.

I didn't have access to celery juice, as recommended, but I did substitute whey, for a total of 4 c. of whey mixed with water to submerge the meat, salt, and whatever mixture of pickling spices I had on hand... I believe it was green and black peppercorns, slightly crushed bay leaves, mustard seeds, coriander, and a pinch or two of clove powder.

I rubbed the meat with the spice/salt mixture, then rolled up the meat as best as I could and tied it with cotton meat twine. I asked for the cotton meat twine for purchase at the supermarket, and the meat counter guy gave me about 6' of twine for free! How nice!

Then I wrapped the meat with a dish towel, instead of cheese cloth. Next time I'll actually purchase cheese cloth, or not use a cloth at all. The towel held air in, which created a bubble, and made it more awkward to work with.

I used one of my crocks!

The flavor was awesome! This cut of meat is a little tougher, so it would probably work best to cook it in the slow cooker. But we actually did eat some of this meat raw, the boys couldn't get enough! We also love having corned beef hash. We grind up the meat in the food processor to make it a little easier to eat--it is pretty chewy.

The husband sliced it real thin, and we put several small packages in the freezer to pull out later.

It was actually much easier to do than I thought, and I wonder why it took me so long. Most of the time, I'm fighting with my own inertia!


  1. Megan, I put my beef together last night and didn't have raw whey so used powdered whey mixed with celery juice. Do you think I ruined the brine by using powdered whey?
    Thanks. I'm obsessing a bit about this.

    1. Annie, When you say powdered whey, are you talking about protein powder made from whey? Because that is not the same thing as the whey you get from clabbered milk. Powdered whey will not give you the lactic acid that is needed for proper curing.

      I am not sure if your brine is ruined... but it will not have the same effect, and I hope you aren't leaving it on the counter. I would ask your question over at Nourished Kitchen Blog and hopefully someone there will be able to give you a better answer!

      Good luck!

  2. Megan thanks I posted a request there too. I used "pure dairy whey" in powdered form not protein powder made from whey. I have it in the fridge after leaving it on the counter covered for 8 hours. It's beginning to smell like corned beef. I also added some fresh whey to the solution last night. I'm feeling like I should be ok. I really appreciate your response. Thanks.

    1. Hmm, I didn't know that there was such a thing as that! Sounds like you have it under control and it should be fine. Way to plan for St. Patrick's Day! ;-)