Corned Beef, the first attempt

All week, I kept an eye on the beef as it sat in brine. Rather, I kept my nose on it. I would open the fridge and sniff deeply. Other than the faintest hint of salt and pickling spice, I smelled nothing. Very good sign, I thought.

This morning, I took out the beef, rinsed it thoroughly in running water and set about to cook it. As instructed, I place it in “the largest pot [I] had that holds the corned beef”. Check. I added the same spices to the water that I had put in the brine. Check. I brought it to a boil and then allowed to simmer for 3 hours, or until tender. Um, check, check and not-so-check.

Bringing the beef to a boil was quite satisfying. It plumped up like an engorged — um, I can only come up with nasty or naughty analogies here. I’ll just say it plumped up quite nicely. Other than being grey instead of pink (due to the lack of saltpetre) it looked and smelled like corned beef I’d bought and cooked before. So far, so good.

I checked on the meat periodically, and every time it still seemed quite tight, and not what I would call tender. I recalled later — too late — that when I have cooked corned beef in the past, it was a simple matter to look up the recommended cooking time based on the weight. I had forgotten that I used a smaller cut than was called for in the recipe, and I should have stopped the cooking sooner.

Grey meat is not so appealing. It did smell good, though.

In the end, the beef was much smaller than it was when it started cooking, having lost all the plump it gained at the start, and then some. I found it bland, and dry. My fellow picnickers tried to assure me it was good, but in my opinion it wasn’t. Edible, but barely. Luckily, they brought lovely salads and fruits to fill the gap.

I may try again, only with brisket and hopefully with the saltpetre. And I think I will do it in secret a few times, until I get it right.

6 thoughts on “Corned Beef, the first attempt

  1. I haven’t tried to buy it myself, but I’ve hear that you can buy saltpetre from the druggist.


  2. There’s no chance that cooking it longer would have helped? When I make meat for tacos, it looks kind of like your picture at some stage and I think there’s no way it’s ever going to get tender. It always does though.


    1. I should have said: the meat was tender. Quite tender in fact, considering that it was also dry. I missed the point at which it was both tender AND still juicy. I think I leached the juices out, and the flavour with it.


      1. Ah, I see. I assumed it was still tough. If you have any left, you could solve the lack of juiciness by bathing it in mayonnaise and calling it Fleischsalat.


  3. i know it wasn’t the result you wanted but it was tasty, just a milder, less fatty, version of corned beef.


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