Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pickled Beef

Pickled beef is quite similar to corned beef, but for whatever reason, I just really like the idea of a jar full of pickled beef. It brings to mind the curious offerings of Eastern European grocery stores whose shelves are chock full of pickled eggs, pigs feet, chicken feet, and whatever other atrocity that I as a red blooded, middle-class, Midwestern, American born in the 1980s reject from the core. (Ok, "reject from the core" might be a bit of an exaggeration, but don't those jars kind of creep you out?) Pickled beef on the other hand is salty, spicy, and magically delicious. An idea that came to Ben a while back, our Ball jar of beef sat in the fridge for more than three weeks. And, while I don't recommend that long of a period of marination, it is kind of cool that we ate it, enjoyed it, and are still here to write about it.

Pickled beef would be a finger-licking topping on homemade tortillas, layered amongst shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, and hot sauce. It would also be great stirred into fried rice or shredded onto a salad. If you're feeling Irish, boil up some cabbage and potatoes and wash it down with a Guinness. The possibilities are endless, but we chose simple, slightly greasy, and traditional: a butter-fried, pickled beef sandwich with 1000 island dressing and a side of red cabbage slaw. Some meals are better for the soul than the ticker.

1 1/2 quarts water
3/4 cup salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (2 inches), broken
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
1 piece (1-inch) ginger, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 - 2 pounds flat cut beef brisket
12 ounces dark beer

1. In a non-reactive container (such as glass or stainless steel) with a lid, combine all ingredients except for beer. Stir well. Refrigerate for several days.
2. Set the oven to 350 degrees. In a flameproof casserole fitted with a lid, place meat and whatever spices cling to it. Discard brining liquid and other spices. Pour beer over the top.
3. Cover the pan with the lid, and roast for 4 hours, checking several times to be sure that all the liquid has not cooked off. If the liquid has reduced, add a little water.
4. Rest meat for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

If you wish to recreate our sandwiches, layer the shredded meat with grated cheese and 1000 island dressing on a slice of sandwich bread. Top with another slice of bread. Fry each side in butter until golden brown, and bake in oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve with cabbage slaw.

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