Slow-braised corned beef: post mortem
As an addendum to an earlier post that I can't seem to find, I mentioned that I'd made some sweeping statements about braising corned beef in a pot in the oven, kind of like a porchetta, and so I figured I had an obligation to up and do it. So I up and did it. The results were a mixed bag, mostly good.
I began by trimming the biggest chunk of solid fat off my corned beef, a 4+ lb. slab of point-cut, and then rolling and tying it and browning it in a mix of lard and olive oil. After it was good and blistered all over, I removed it to a warm place and cooked a chopped onion and chopped pasilla pepper, then laid the meat on top of that and poured in a pint of mixed bouillon and tomato juice, covered it, and set it into a moderate oven (275º). Did not peek for seven hours, by which time whatever genius the process was going to work on the meat surely would have. A sliver trimmed and stuck in my mouth was about all my mortal soul could bear, except that it was stringy. The whole slab was almost gelatinous to the touch, though after it had sat on a platter for a while it cut very nicely. Point cut is much more fatty than the flat, which was one reason I'd chosen it for my test run (the other reason being it was dirt cheap!), and so it was no surprise that the roast was oozing fat onto the platter. Still, as I've noted, it was not difficult to slice, and we served ourselves slabs of that with "smashed" skin-on buttered White Rose potatoes and braised cabbage with bacon. Hoo ha!
I will try doing this with flat cut next, probably NOT for seven hours...we'll see.
Okay, here we are six years later, and I'm ready to try again. I got what looks like a very good recipe from allrecipes.com, and luckily it's a simple one because I couldn't copy/paste it off the page because this ad for something dropped onto the page and the CLOSE button wouldn't work. This positions itself as a direct and superior alternative to simmering or "boiling," and I'm prepared to believe it. Basically you preheat the oven to 275º, dry the meat (that's my idea, and I think it's important) and then brush on something like Kitchen Bouquet. Heat some oil in a skillet and brown the meat (flat-cut, I should mention) on all sides, then lay it on a rack in a roasting pan. Slice onion and some peeled garlic cloves and strew over the top, pour in a little water, cover the pan tightly with foil and leave it in there for about 70-80 minutes per pound. I'm going to use my enamelled iron oval pot, since I braise everything in that and why change now?
I have the corned beef already; I just need to decide what to brush on it for the browning. Like, would St. Julia use Kitchen Bouquet for anything? Or do I just need to get over myself? Stay tuned as the story unfolds.
I never truly braise a corned beef brisket. I just simmer it ... "boiled" beef would be closer to it. A braise always requires browning, but IMHO, corned beef doesn't need it. I also never trim the fat. It helps keep it moist during cooking (and can always be trimmed after cooking). I start it in cold water and bring slowly up to a bare simmer. I leave it there for about three hours, then let it cool in the broth for another hour or so. But bringing to a boil on the stove and then placing in the oven for about the same amount of time should work just as well.
4 hours is plenty for that size. I don't get the point of rolling and tying it, or on browning it before braising. With that small of amount of liquid, the oven should roast it, just turn up the heat to 375 for the last 30 minutes, or more if you want it really browned. Glad it worked out. I used the exact same cut and weight and it was great. Mine did not ooze fat at all, it was just perfect.
Rolling and tying it was mostly to get the meat mass evenly distributed; it was a big bullheaded thing at one end and pathetically thin at the other - waddaya expect for less than four bucks? As for the browning, I've mentioned that I had previously suggested on this board that I didn't see why you couldn't do a regular braise with corned beef; this was a test of that assertion, which meant I was obliged to observe Standard Procedures, whether it appeared to make sense or not.
No, kd, I've never done anything but simmer it before, either. Once again, it was an experiment. Proposed, accomplished, reported on. It had its good and bad points, as noted. Just an hour or two ago, it made its farewell appearance as a pretty good Reuben...