Tuesday, March 15, 2011

a few days early for St. Patrick's Day

This month's charcutepalooza challenge was brining - corned beef tongue, or corned beef brisket, or if one was feeling less ambitious, brined pork chops.

I've brined tongue tongue several times already - our meat CSA often has it in the bargain bin at pickup, and having home-cured corned beef tongue for under a dollar a pound is hard to pass up.

So in the spirit of having charcutepalooza be about trying something new, I brined a small brisket from the meat CSA instead. Really pushing boundaries, for me - brisket was once this very inexpensive cut of meat, but nowadays it's not, especially when sourced from a small local farm! And corned beef is tasty but to me it still belongs those "good cheap eats" category. Whereas I love Jewish holiday brisket. So, would CSA meat turn it into something amazing, something that makes it more worth doing than my old standby?

Alas, the answer for me was "no". Fun to eat corned beef I made myself, nice and pretty, but mostly tasted just like the industrially corned ones at the supermarket, to me. I vote for just corning tongue next time and I'll save the next brisket for Passover. However, my mother-in-law, visiting from Croatia where the supermarkets do not abound with corned beef every March, is thinking about bringing some pink salt home with her...

On another note, I did also brine some porkchops, this month's apprentice challenge. That was a bit more of a revelation, to be honest - 2 hours in a simply spiced brine makes for a totally transformed piece of pork - different texture, different flavor - not quite a pork chop, not quite a ham either.