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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kitchen Wanderings: The Corned Beef Caper

Perhaps the the most memorable experiences are those that when we smell a certain fragrance or taste a certain dish, brings us back to another time and place.

I grew up in a home where my father loved recreating Filipino and Spanish cuisine from recipe books here and there. Mom was more experimental, Indian and Jewish cuisine on top of those learned from all the cooking and baking lessons she signed up for at Sylvia Reynoso's cooking school. Even my younger brother could scrounge up a decent Rosemary Chicken when made to. Cooking from scratch was simply the norm, and processed food (specially breakfast food) was somewhat a treat. I enjoyed bacon and sausages, my brother could live off luncheon meat but we loved our corned beef. 

What makes a good corned beef? Corned beef or beef pickled in brine, are at it's best when they're chunky, rather than unrecognizable ones. They're worth biting into when you can see the individual strands and chew  it's softened beef tendons, not to mention a 10:90 ratio of fat and meat.

I was never too keen on eating those canned mushy ones. Corned beef hash, corned beef soup and  a decent corned beef sandwich top my list of comfort food and can only be made with decent corned beef.

I'd like to share with you a recipe I picked up somewhere on how to make some fabulous homemade corned beef :

Fresh Corned Beef
Beef  Brisket                              2kg (whole)
Salt                                            1 cup
Pink Salt/Prague Powder            1 tbsp (if you can't find any, 1/2 tbsp salitre or sodium nitrate works fine)
Sugar                                         1/2 cup
Pickling Spices                           3 tbsp
 = coriander seed, mustard seed, dried chili, bay leaf, juniper berries and cloves
(couldn't find juniper berries so I substituted it with cumin seeds, as for the mustard seed, which I also ran out of, I substituted it with a tbsp of prepared mustard. Cloves maybe substituted with allspice or nutmeg)
Garlic                                          1 head
Cold  Water                                4 liters

boiling all the pickling spices
  1. Put all the ingredients, except the BEEF in a pot. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let cool. 
submerge brisket into cooled down curing liquid
      2.  Put cooled curing liquid in a plastic container big enough to accommodate the brisket. 
          Weigh down  meat to make sure it's completely submerged. Let cure in the fridge for 5 days. 
the finished product
      3. After 5 days, rinse and place cured beef in a large pot. Boil  slowly simmer and till beef is tender 
         (about 3 hours). I used the pressure cooker instead for about half the time. 
         The corned beef turned out to be nice and tender but wasn't mushy and did not fall apart in the cooker.

Cool down beef and store in fridge if you don't plan on serving it just yet.
about to make corned beef soup
I kept a chunk away from the freezer, and just in the compartment below it so that I could make delicious chunky corned beef sandwiches (with a bit of mustard, maybe some onions and lettuce) at a moment's notice. You could also cut it into small cubes, add potatoes's , some celery (powder's ok) and cabbage for a hearty corned beef soup or cook the way you would canned corned beef.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours.

** clearly, taking a decent photos is something I'd have to work on, but as far as the meat was concerned, the flavor and texture was absolutely spot on :)

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