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Feb 28, 2013 08:08 PM

Homemade Corned Beef

Any experience pickling a brisket, starting with meat that is already soaked and salted? I've done it twice, using a recipe I found on line. The result was great both times, except that the meat was too salty. Not inedible, but too salty. Good flavor, pink color, all okay. Years ago when we could purchase an already pickled brisket, the directions would say to bring to a boil and pour off the water a couple of times before the final boil. Did that both times. The second time I soaked in plain water for 24 hours before cooking. It was a little better, but still too salty. It all makes sense, as the meat is salted to begin with, but how to modify the recipe?

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  1. I don't know what you mean by starting with a brisket that is already soaked and salted. Sounds like you are starting with an at least partially pickled brisket, which would make it too salty.

    I have always started with a fresh brisket. And I prefer a dry rub rather than soaking in brine.

    How did you cook it? If it is saltier than I prefer, I would change the cooking water (if I was boiling it) and/or wash off the excess salt prior to cooking.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Bigjim68

      Before cooking kosher meat has to have the blood removed by a process of soaking and salting so the meat to begin with has a salt content that non-kosher meat doesn't.

      Changing the cooking water three times and rinsing off the brine and a 24 hour soak in plain water prior to cooking didn't remove enough of the excess salt.

      I am guessing that the amount of salt used in a dry rub or brine has to be decreased to some degree.

      1. re: russian_major

        I guess I am not following the process of preparing kosher corned beef.. Corning is done before the meat is cooked and is the process of soaking the meat in brine. Why do you need to start with salted meat? Maybe a look at the recipe in question would help. Do you have a link?

        1. re: Bigjim68

          re: "Why do you need to start with salted meat?"
          What exactly is unclear to you? As russian_major explained, the process of koshering raw meat involves soaking it in water and then covering it in coarse kosher salt, which is used to draw out the blood, since eating blood is forbidden. Even though you then rinse off the salt, the meat generally remains saltier than non-kosher meat. No matter the recipe, anyone keeping kosher is starting off with a piece of meat which has gone through this process, and is, therefore, somewhat salty from the get-go. Since the corning process involves a salty brine, it means that kosher corned beef may wind up saltier than a non-kosher version.

          1. re: queenscook

            I think what may be unclear is: Why isn't the salting/ corning done during the process of making corned beef sufficient as koshering?

              1. re: NE_Wombat

                I guess the best way to look at is this: Koshering is a religious act/requirement, and as such, has specific procedures that need to be followed. It's not done to tenderize, corn, brine, etc. Therefore, whatever is going to be done to the meat for culinary purposes is totally separate of the koshering process.

                1. re: queenscook

                  That doesn't address why the act of corning - which is much more lengthy and severe than the soaking and salting of koshering, isn't sufficient to serve the religious function as well as the culinary. Meat and foul has been soaked and salted at home for centuries in fulfilment of the religious dictates, why is it prohibited to then simply extend the process and end up with corned meat?

                  1. re: NE_Wombat

                    Because you need to soak, salt and rinse as a first step still. Again, kashering is a 1-hour step and "corning" lasts a week. The salt penetration from kashering isn't going to make a bit of difference.

                    1. re: NE_Wombat

                      The point of soaking and salting is to get rid of the blood. Soaking meat in brine makes it TREIF! It seals in the blood, rather than extracting it. The salted meat has to sit on a tilted draining board, so that all the exudate drains away; if it sits in a pool of its own juices, that makes it treif.

                  2. re: NE_Wombat

                    You're assuming that you can get a brisket set aside at the slaughterhouse that would not be soaked/salted. That's a possibility if you have access to a cow and a shochet, but in a commercial operation, it's mostly all or nothing.

                    1. re: ferret

                      Even if you did get one, you'd have to soak and salt it *before* corning it.

                    2. re: NE_Wombat

                      Um, because it won't get rid of the blood, on the contrary it will seal the blood in the meat and make it treif. Perhaps you meant it the other way around, why is kashering not enough to corn it, and the answer is probably that sitting on a draining board for an hour, coated in salt, isn't enough.

                      1. re: zsero

                        Also, to kasher meat, the soaking/salting needs to happen within, IIRC, three days of slaughter. You can't buy unsalted, kosher-slaughtered meat, because it gets done in the slaughterhouse to ensure that the salting is done on time.

                        1. re: GilaB

                          I made pickled tongue over yom tov from fresh tongue. I let it sit in the brine only 7 days because we were impatient! It was so delicious and I'm happy we found a way to avoid the nitrates. I just googled a basic recipe for corned beef brine.

                          1. re: sig

                            I usually buy veal tongue and brine it for 10 days-
                            I use a recipe from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich

                            great recipes

            1. Believe it or not Michael Ruhlman, who wrote the Charcuterie Book is good on answering e-mails. He helped me when I made pickled tongue. Try e-mailing him and asking for help


              1. Pickling a brisket takes many days versus kashering which has about an hour of salting. The absorption of salt in a brisket from kashering is minimal compared to the pickling process (or compared to a thin skirt steak which gets very salty very quickly). I occasionally get lazy and just buy the already-pickled cryovac brisket from Alle. Not as good, but passable (and I generally smoke it).

                1. I was just at a corned beef class last week, and the instruction was to let the brisket sit in brine for 2-4 weeks, then rinse it well before cooking - just with tap water. Apparently the longer the brining, the better the flavour, but the more it needs to be washed/rinsed.
                  The brine proportions were 1 cup kosher salt to 4 litres (just over 4 quarts) of water.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hungryjoanne

                    2/3 cup kosher salt
                    1 gallon water
                    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
                    4 teaspoons picking salt
                    1 tablespoon Ball Picking Spice
                    2 Bay leaves
                    3 large garlic cloves minced

                    Place all the above in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cool completely prior to soaking brisket. 10 days later remove, rinse well. Add additional 1 tsp of Ball Picking Spice if boiling or cook as desired.

                    I have been experimenting with kosher brisket for a while. I tweak this recipe a little each time. Some times I add crushed red peppers too.