by Barbara Freedman
This recipe has a wonderful story and history. The original recipe called for saltpetre also known as potassium nitrate. It was once sold in drugstores and easily obtained. But, I’ve since learned that potassium nitrate is used for making bombs and is no longer available !! Curing salts – sodium nitrate- can be purchased instead at the butcher store. It is the ingredient that turns the meat pink, otherwise it would be grey. ENJOY!!
per one gallon of water (16 cups/3.8 litres)
One gallon of water is enough for a 9 – 10lb / 4 – 4.5kg. brisket
14 oz Non-Iodized salt, either Kosher or Coarse
4 oz /113 g Skimpy curing salts aka sodium nitrate
Dissolve salts thoroughly by pouring boiling measured water into salt then add remaining water and stir. Let cool. Only use fresh spices which can be bought in bulk i.e at Save On. Most spices in the cupboard are long past stale date.
2 tbsp. brown demerara sugar (use 1 1/2 tbsp if you prefer)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
6 red small chili peppers or 1 tbsp chili flakes | If you don’t like heat – reduce to 3 peppers or 1.5 tsp chili flakes
3 cloves chopped garlic
Add above ingredients to brine first, mixing well, than add ingredients below.
2 or 3 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
Coriander – a handful of seeds or 1 tbsp ground
Marinate for 12 – 14 days in the fridge crisper or in a large plastic bag. Turn brisket every other day so meat is soaking in the brine. Place a water-filled bottle or a plate on top of the meat so it doesn’t float to top.
Rinse meat thoroughly before cooking. Cover meat with water, add fresh spices and simmer at a steady boil over medium heat for 3 – 4 hours or until tender.
Cut the meat against the grain.
Corned beef can be smoked after it is cooked if you’re lucky enough to own a smoker.
How to buy brisket
Buy brisket at a local butcher. Supermarkets won’t be able to help you.I prefer the flat part of the brisket, not the *point as it is very thick and fatty. A brisket may weigh as much as 13 or 14 pounds. Buy a piece that is at least 8 or 9 lbs. If anything is leftover it can be frozen.The butcher will cut it to your specifications. the remaining meat is cut up for stewing beef anyway. Ask the butcher to leave only about a 1/4 inch of fat.
I purchase all my briskets at Windsor Quality Meats in Vancouver. It’s $4.99/lb for whole uncut brisket or $5.99/lb if cut to order and is always available. However if you need a brisket for a special occasion, call to have it put aside. The staff are very pleasant and helpful. Curing salt can be purchased from them. By the way, they cure all the briskets for Kaplan’s Delicatessen at 41st and Oak.
Adrian and Sydney’s great-great grandparents, Minnie and Louis Rosenbaum had a delicatessen in South Granville circa 1930-1940. They had moved to Vancouver from Denver, Colorado where he was a butcher. I still have his butcher block. Louis was famous for his corned beef and was offered $5000 for his recipe, a huge amount of money then. After their late grandson Ernie and I were married, they gave us the recipe and made us promise never to give it to anyone. The promise was honoured for decades. I’ve now decided it’s time to share this so everyone may enjoy Louis’ corned beef. I taught Adrian how to buy the meat and make this recipe and know he’ll make this forever. How special to pass recipes through the generations.