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Corned beef made simple

Mar./Apr. 2010 California Country magazine

Want to transform a sometimes tough piece of beef into the melt-in-your-mouth delicacy we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day? You won’t need the luck of the Irish to enjoy corned beef at home any time of year!



Mark Stewart is a manager at Artisan Meat and Fish in Granite Bay and also one of the Sacramento region’s most respected butchers. Almost every day of the week, he is on hand at the neighborhood meat counter to provide tips, help customers select the best cuts of meat and answer any and all questions they might have. This time of year, the top question is about one type of meat.

“Oh, they start asking around December when we’re going to have corned beef,” said Stewart with a smile. “It’s easily one of our biggest sellers of the year.”

Although corned beef doesn’t hit their storefront until early March, Stewart says you can make your own at home anytime—with a few tips from a pro. First, you need to know what cut of beef to select. While you can use a bottom or top round roast, Stewart says brisket is best for corned beef because, “in the long run, it will offer you the most flavor.”

Next, invest in a large non-reactive pot, such as glass or stainless steel, and consider adjusting the shelves of your refrigerator. Stewart points out that you will want to brine your brisket in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower so you don’t risk the growth of bacteria.

Finally, give yourself plenty of time—usually the brisket must sit in the brine for a week or two before it’s ready to be cooked. And while their beef brining recipe is a closely guarded family secret, Stewart offers a similar recipe to try at home.

Tracy Sellers is a reporter for California Country. She can be reached at 800-698-FARM or tsellers@californiacountry.org.

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