Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Charcutepalooza

Seasoned, moist and tasty are a few of my adjectives for the March Charcutepalooza challenge – adventures in brining. Because I’m more of a baker, I’ve never experimented much with meat cookery. Charcutepalooza is changing that and I’m developing a lot more confidence in my skills. The March challenge included an apprentice challenge of brining a whole chicken or pork chops and a Charcuterie challenge of brining a piece of beef. My choices were a whole chicken and a beef brisket (in separate preps).

I followed the recipes in Charcuterie for both challenges. My biggest surprise was that I had to heat up the brining liquid to simmer to dissolve the salt and sugar and then cool it to refrigerator temperature before submerging the meat. I never did that in my previous experience brining a turkey for Thanksgiving – no wonder it never seemed to work! The chicken was tasty and had a great texture. I used a free-range chicken from the local farmer’s market. I was unable to buy a brisket from a local farmer, so I cheated and bought a beef brisket from my local BJ’s. Once the brisket was brined, I braised it for around 4 hours. The result was a nice piece of corned beef.

The corned beef was made into mini Reuben sandwiches for a party last Saturday. I give a shout out to Nancy, Holly, Jude, Claire and Marjorie, who mixed, formed, ate, sipped and gabbed on Saturday. I used Zoe Francois Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes and taught my friends the technique. They baked boules, baguettes, pain d’epi and pitas over several hours. The Reuben sandwiches were a hit – whenever I passed a plate, it came back empty. Comments included the best corned beef I ever tasted.

Brined and roasted chicken
Corned beef
Mini reuben
Multiple minis with my favoriate, sour cornichons
One of the boules from Saturday

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