Hi all! I had another inspirational moment to create what is sure to be a unique and interesting brisket project.
Where this will be unique lies in the favors I have chosen to focus on. I'm using a 12-3/4lb packer brisket to
create a cured/smoked beef product which I cannot really call corned beef pastrami due to the flavor profile being
so far away from a traditional recipe, hence the name Cherry Spiced & Cured Beef. I'll cover several aspects of
my methods for meat preparation, curing, and smoking for the novice (for the experienced, please, bear with me,
as it will be worth the ride for you as well). So, I embark on yet another adventure, and I'm inviting you to join the fun!
I chose the brisket flat for this project instead of the point because of it's leaner inter-muscular structure, as
I want the final product to have a firmer texture for slicing, and a slightly chewier texture. I want to be able to
chew my way through all the flavors this meat will have infused into it from the brine cure. Also, the flat cut of
the brisket has a more uniform thickness and will cure, smoke and cook more evenly than the point cut. My past
experience with cured flats for corned beef pastrami have all been great, so it just seems like a win-win situation!
The dry rub I have formulated contains most of the same base ingredients as the brine/cure to bring on the initial
flavor profile to the senses before you actually take a bite and start chewing the meat. As you start eating, this
dry rub combination should prepare you for the interior flavors, but fade away as the deeper and more complex flavors
inside the meat begin to take over the senses. My previous non-traditional corned beef pastrami recipes were very
good in that aspect as well, giving a flavor which just seemed to get more intense with each chew from a bite of the
meat, making it nearly irresistible to walk away from. So, in keeping with that, I wanted to really focus on bringing
that trait out in the open on this new flavor of cured beef as well, which is why I am using a very highly concentrated
brine/cure solution. This brine is literally saturated with spices, so as the osmosis begins with curing, the flavors
will be drawn into the meat in that much higher concentration. I expect a total flavor explosion as a result.
I did the paper-work on these recipes last night over about a 45 minute period of answering questions about what I really
wanted this cured beef experience to be like. A unique flavor with some background heat were among the top priorities,
and cherry has been a great base for dry rubs, so I wanted to give it a try with curing just for the experience.
CHERRY SPICED & CURED BRISKET
***measures are for approx. 4 pounds of beef***
CHERRY SPICED BEEF BRINE & CURE
2 Tbls dried, minced, ground tart cherries (prep method found in the Wiki for my "Cherry Rub")
1 Tbls red bell pepper powder
2 tsp green bell pepper powder
2 tsp ground black peppercorn
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
4 bay leaf, whole
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbls jalapeno powder
1 Tbls ancho chili powder
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Tender Quick Cure
3.5 cups water
Mix all dry ingredients except tender quick cure into water in a saucepan, heat slowly
while stirring every few minutes until simmering.
Remove pan from heat, stir-in tender quick cure, cover and chill well.
When the brine/cure solution is chilled, it is the time to grab the fully thawed meat from the fridge
and get started preparing it for the cure bag while brine/cure solution is cooling. This keeps the
meat tucked away safe and sound so it can be kept chilled as much as possible. Once you begin handling
the meat, the clock is ticking, so don't dilly-dally.
Place prepared meat into a gallon size plastic ziploc storage bag and add chilled brine/cure solution.
Slowly work out air bubbles and free air from solution with bag nearly zipped all the way closed, then
close tightly. Massage meat bag gently for a minute to begin working brine/cure into the meat.
Refrigerate and turn bag over twice daily after a slow, gentle massage and texture check. Make a mental
note of the feel of the meat each day when you massage it.
I like to cure for 3-4 days per inch of thickness, or until meat becomes firm and the texture remains
unchanged for at least 1 day. If the firmness is unchanged, the cure reaction has stopped and the meat
should be fully cured at that point. Certain pieces of meat may take more or less time. Just like when
smoking, each piece of meat can take on it's own personality, so exercise patience and you will be
rewarded. Also, the concentration of spices and curing agent will effect during time...with less liquid
and more solids, it can slow the cure process somewhat, but the massaging and turning over the meat
curing bag will help.
You should notice a slow color change in the brine/cure solution and on the surface of the meat usually
within 3 days. Taking pics for comparison can help to determine color tone. This particular brine/cure
solution is heavily laden with spices, to the point of nearly being a paste, so color change may not be
as noticeable. Many folks strain their brine solution to remove the spice particles, but I like to leave
them in the. This gives the spices that much more time to impart their flavors, which may increase the
intensity in the finished product much more than you might notice with straining the solution.
When curing is complete, rinse in cold water, apply dry rub and smoke to 160*, then foil and steam to 190*.
Now, on to the dry rub, which is the start-up phase of the flavor profile. I want to get the senses ready
for what is coming next, so I don't want the rub to be the main focus. To accomplish this, the volumes of
the spices will not be as liberal as what is contained in the brine/cure, and I'm not so much looking for
a bark as I am a deep smoke penetration, so nothing contained in the rub is used solely for bark formation.
Also, I don't want these flavors to be as complex as the interior of the meat. I want it to be more of a
teaser of sorts, which will make the initial bite and chew carry forward into a much more intense and
enjoyable flavor experience.
CHERRY SPICED BEEF DRY RUB
1 Tbls dried, minced and ground tart cherries
2 tsp red bell pepper powder
2 tsp cracked or course ground black peppercorn
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon
If you've been following my previous recipes, you may be wondering why I included the red bell pepper,
jalapeno and certain other ingredients into the brine/cure and dry rub. It's all about the overall flavor
profile. Red bell pepper has that natural spicy-sweetness that lends such a nice flavor as a main focal
point, but when used as a background ingredient, it also aids in smoothing over the heat of cayenne,
along with cinnamon. It's just a play on the senses of taste and smell to overcome the possible undesirable
bitter aftertaste of the cayenne. Also, you may have noticed I'm not using salt in the brine or dry rub...
this is due to the salt content in the curing agent.
I will take the thinnest section of the flat which was cut off, and the point from this packer, dry rub and
wrap in poly to rest overnight in the fridge for smoking. I'll likely slice the small section of flat,
and cube the point into burnt ends for tomorrow's smoke. Burnt ends are in high demand around here...we love
'em, but that's another story to be told HERE.
My packer in waiting:
Brine/Cure ready to chill:
Brisket, let me I introduce you to Blade...Blade, meet your latest work:
Separation and trimming...I trimmed off the bulk of the fat-cap...here, the flat is on the board, and the point is being carved away to the left:
The edges and remaining fat are trimmed off, and the flat is ready to size-up for a bag...the small, thin piece will hit the smoke in the morning:
Into the bath of goodness:
Let the cure begin...if this is cured in the next 6 to 6.5 days, then I can smoke it on the Wed the 19th, but if it takes any longer than 6.5 days, I'll have to wait until the 24th for my next available smokin' day. The anticipation will try to drive me nuts until then, but it's not my first long cure before the smoke...I'll live to see the end of this.
Point for burnt ends (top), and the remaining small section of flat...both get smoked tomorrow:
So, in about a week (with a little luck) the smoke is on, but I'd be leaning more towards the later date. It's been my past experience that brine cures are done when they're done...nothing you can do about it except the massage, bag turning, and wait for signs of no more cure reaction.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out the start of my latest!
See ya with updates on the cure later, and of course the smoke.
Man, serious internet/comp issues...took about 5 hours to load these pics, but I'm dedicated to sharing with members and guests here at SMF, so I wasn't about to throw in the towel! BOOM! I finally get to hit the submit button! Ha-ha-ha!!!!!!!!
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 1/13/11 at 4:00pm