Archive | March 2015

Pickling a Brisket

With St. Patty’s Day fast approaching, corned beef has started to make its appearance in the grocery store.  It’s an interesting piece of meat, that a lot of people love to eat but many have no idea of really what it is, or how to make it themselves.

Corned beef is pickled brisket and it harkens back to the days before refrigeration where a popular way of preserving meat was to pack it in salt or pickle it. At one time, corn referred to the number of kernels or seeds including the coarse salt granules packed around the brisket. So, the meat was called corned beef in reference to the corns of salt.   If you can brine a turkey for Thanksgiving then you most certainly can pickle a brisket for St. Patricks Day.

Most recipes call for pink salt which is a salt and sodium nitrate mixture.  This preserves the pink color of the meat.  I personally do not eat food with added nitrates or nitrites, so substituting some celery juice which has naturally occurring nitrates in it, is my choice.

The following recipe is very vague on purpose.  If you are going to make your owned corned beef then you should also make your own pickling spice, so while i will provide suggestions on which spices to use, i will let you decide the amounts so that you can really own this corned beef!  Don’t stress about this step, whatever spices and in whatever amounts you chose, will be fine.  Just have fun in the kitchen and enjoy the results.  You should start this in the next day or two if you want it to be ready for St. Patrick’s Day.  Let me know how it turns out.

Pickled Brisket (corned beef)
This is more of a template than an actual recipe because you create your pickling spice, start this recipe 6-8 days before you intend to serve it.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 cups HOT filtered water
  2. 3 cups Guinness Beer or just add extra water if you want to omit the beer
  3. 2 cups juiced celery
  4. 1 3/4 cups kosher salt (chose the biggest and chunkiest salt you can find)
  5. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  6. 1/3 cup pickling spice ( see note below)
  7. 1 beef brisket, grass fed and about 6- 8 lbs
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep roasting pan, or a sterilized cooler if you don't have a roasting pan, pour water, beer, and celery juice.
  2. Mix in kosher salt and sugar until dissolved.
  3. Add pickling spice.
  4. Pierce the brisket all over with a sharp knife so it can soak up the brine.
  5. Add the brisket to the brine and place a heavy platter on top to weigh it down. Cover and refrigerate 3 days. Check at least once a day to make sure brisket is remaining submerged.
  6. Remove brisket from brine.
  7. Stir liquid to blend.
  8. Flip brisket and return to brine, weight with platter and cover. Refrigerate for an additional 3 days.
  9. After 6-8 days in the brine, remove the brisket and rinse with cold running water.
  10. Wrap with plastic, then foil and refrigerate. Can be removed from brine and stored for up to 2 days ahead.
Notes
  1. The basics for a pickling mix are: mustard seeds, whole allspice, whole coriander, whole cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, dill seeds, juniper berries, fennel seeds, mace, black peppercorns and a couple of cinnamon sticks. Chose whatever combination of the above spices and mix them all together. Store in an airtight container for making pickles, or your next corned beef!
Kitchen Thyme http://kitchenthyme.moxie.consulting/

Spring is Coming!

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to start thinking about a menu change for spring.  People lighten up their diets in the spring to slough off the heavy winter foods and prepare their bodies for the warmer and more active months.  So, get rid of that cottage pie and chicken pot pie until next Fall, and put a springtime focus in your menu.

Asparagus is a go to on the hot bar for spring.  Easy to prepare and popular with the community, it is truly the harbinger of spring.  If you have a local grower in your area, start a conversation with them about what they do with their “seconds”.  Many asparagus farmers have great quantities of asparagus that they cannot sell to top tier produce departments and thats where the deli can really come in and make a profit and help a local farmer.

These seconds are just fine for roasting whole for the hot bar, and if you get some that are too bloomed, then make a soup, or cut them up into a stir fry or fried rice.  

Here is great asparagus soup recipe.  Spring is comin’ Bring it on!

Cream of Asparagus Soup
A flavorful and easy soup, sure to delight! This recipe makes 22 Qts.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 lbs organic asparagus
  2. 6 qts chicken stock
  3. 3/4 cup organic butter
  4. 3 cups finely diced organic onion
  5. 3 cups finely diced organic leeks (white parts only)
  6. 1/3 cup minced organic garlic
  7. 2 tsp salt
  8. 1 tsp organic black pepper
  9. 1/2 cup organic heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Cut the asparagus tips, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length, set aside.
  2. Cut or break off the woody ends from each spear and set aside.
  3. Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2-inch pieces, set aside.
  4. In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20 to 30 minutes. Then, remove asparagus with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.
  5. Add the asparagus tips to the stock and blanch until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath. Drain and put in a hotel pan, set aside.
  6. In another medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When foamy, add the onion and leeks and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  9. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  10. With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  11. Add cream and asparagus tips.
Notes
  1. When reheating this soup, be careful to keep the temperature low to avoid boiling. Boiling the soup upon reheat will cause it to separate.
Kitchen Thyme http://kitchenthyme.moxie.consulting/