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Man Food Watch™: Brine a brisket for St. Pat’s

Man-Food Watch™ is a series of recipes for armchair tailgaters who want to raise their game when it comes TV sports and eating. Impress the guys with food that’s hearty, flavorful, easy to make and usually inexpensive.

You have just enough time to corn that enormous brisket you’re going to buy so it will be ready to cook tomorrow for St. Pat’s.

Good news!

You have just enough time to corn that enormous brisket you’re going to buy so it will be ready to cook tomorrow for St. Pat’s.

Forget the recipes, for now, that call for you to soak the beef in the fridge for like ten days before you cook it.

Normal people have that kind of time.

If you can get the brisket this afternoon, and you need at least one whole brisket with the fat trimmed to about a quarter of inch, then it can corn overnight and be ready to cook first thing in the morning.

Corning beef is a pain

According to food historians, corned beef comes from Yorkshire, England.

Probably it is not English in origin, as many food cultures are represented in the ingredients in corning spices – Jewish, Caribbean, Filippino, Chamorro cuisine from the islands of Saipan and Guam, and Irish-American.

What these widely varied cuisines have in common is the use of coarse salt to preserve meat, and salt may well be what the Old English word ‘corn’ refers to.

Needless to say, preserving anything with salts takes a while, and especially food as dense as beef.

The pay-off is tender, juicy goodness. Well corned brisket will almost melt in your mouth.

Your Examiner flies in the face of corned-beef tradition in one way – she doesn’t know chill the corning brine before the brisket goes in.

It’s a great time saver.

Corning beef is a pain, part ii

Besides brisket, you’ll need to pick up corning spices this afternoon.

Here’s what you need: coarse salt – Your Examiner prefers sea salt, but kosher salt or even rock salt will do just as well; brown sugar – dark or light, your choice; cinnamon stick; whole mustard seeds; whole black peppercorns; whole cloves; whole allspice berries; whole juniper berries; bay leaves; ground ginger.

If you’re thorough, you’ll already stock about half these ingredients.

Look on the rest as an investment in your cooking future.

FYI: There are commercial corning spice blends available.

Corning shrinks your brisket

The sad truth about preserving anything salt is that your thing shrinks, sometimes a lot.

Buy more brisket than you think you can eat because you’re going to lose about half the weight of the meat to brining.

To make sure you have enough corned beef to pile on some manly, meaty sandwiches, buy two whole briskets if you can.

GJE’s Corned Beef

Ingredients – Corning Brine

  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 8-12 whole black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Beef brisket, 2 whole if possible


Chopped onion, carrot and celery for the stock when you finish the corned beef tomorrow.

Cooking Instructions

You need two huge pots, one for each brisket.

  1. In two quarts of water in each pot, mix your corning spices. If handy, add one beer of your choosing to each pot.
  1. Bring your corning brine to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
  1. Remove brine from the heat and place brisket directly in the pots. It’s easier to give the meat a good soak if you cut the brisket in half.
  1. Let the meat soak in the pot until both cool enough to handle, then move the pots to the fridge to let the meat brine over night.
  1. In the morning, take the corned brisket out of the pots and let it drain.
  1. Throw away the used brine, clean your big pots, then place the meat back in them.
  1. Add just enough water to cover the meat (and vegetables in you choose to use them).
  1. Taste and adjust salt as necessary.
  1. Cook the corned beef over high heat and bring it to a boil.
  1. Reduce the heat to low and cook the corned for 2½ to 3 hours until it’s fork tender.

Remember to let the corned beef rest and drain before you slice it for sandwiches.

Slices should be thinnish and cut across the grain of the brisket.


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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact:

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