Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nitrate-free Corned Beef & Cabbage (& Carrots!)

I have a new rule in the house. If I buy the vegetable, I have to eat it. ALL. To save myself from eating something mushy and moldy, that means I have to be on top of things. I had an organic produce delivery that came every other week before, but I was throwing a LOT of it away. This made me feel guilty and like a huge money waster and I decided if I was going that route again, I would NOT throw any of it away. So far, so good. But I still have to eat some green beans, rainbow chard, and some more red leaf lettuce before Friday - eek!

My first delivery with It's Organic contained a bunch of carrots and a head of cabbage. What's a girl to do with those?! Corned beef and cabbage, of course! Who cares if it's the end of June and 90+ degrees? Good food is good food.

So I set out to find a recipe. Well, I lie. I set out to see if a packaged, pre-brined corned beef existed that didn't contain funky ingredients or preservatives. I might as well have been on the hunt for Bigfoot.

Back to square one. I'll brine my own.

One of my favorite new websites is Wellness Mama. Not only does she post some great food recipes, but she has a recipe for just about anything you'd need to use in your house: cleaners, laundry detergent, sunscreen, shampoo, deodorant - the list goes on and on.

And then there is her Corned Beef Brisket recipe - hallelujah! And it is there that I found out why commercial corned beef is pink. Think gunpowder ingredient and powerful enough to dissolve tree stumps. We're eating this stuff..... and someone said it was ok!?!

Now let me tell ya, this was super simple. The hardest part was rounding up all the ingredients for the brine, but after that is done, you throw it all in a container with the brisket and let it sit for 3-5 days. You can do that, right?

Corned Beef Brisket

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 cup of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar or coconut nectar sugar (don't worry, most washes or cooks away)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon or aout 1/4 tsp of powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves (about 8-10)
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2-3 bay leaves, crushed
  • 3-4 lb beef brisket, grass-fed if possible

Combine all the above ingredients in a large pot or container with a lid. Put in the beef brisket and let sit for 3-5 days! That's it! I did, however, go in each day and stir up the liquid and flip my brisket over. Honestly, not sure it does anything but it made me feel better :)


Now to turn it into Corned Beef and Cabbage (& Carrots!)....

This part I had never done before either - not even with a pre-brined brisket. But Wellness Mama pulled through again.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • 3-4 lb corned beef brisket
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 large head of cabbage, sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 5-6 medium carrots, cut into 2" chunks

Take the corned beef out of the brine and rinse off under cool water. Put the corned beef in a crockpot on low for 8 hours with just enough FRESH water to cover the meat. There should be a fatty side of the meat and I put that side down to have a bit of a barrier from the direct heat of the crockpot against the meat. I also admit I put a TINY bit of the brine into the water, but that was probably not necessary. At 8 hours (or whenever you get home from work), check that the meat falls apart easily with a fork (it should - if it doesn't, I don't know what to tell you :). Remove the meat from the crockpot and put in a bowl with some of the liquid and cover with foil. Add the sliced onions and carrots to the crockpot and cook for an hour, or until carrots are fork tender. Add in the cabbage and cook another 20-30 minutes. Slice the brisket and serve with the cabbage and carrots!

Stay tuned to this blog for an "ice cream" recipe that has no added sugars (even honey or maple syrup doesn't make an appearance!) and is dairy-free!

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