I’m a little late to the Charcutepalooza party, but better last than never. For those wondering what is (say it with me) “shar-coo-ta-pa-loo-za”, it’s a year-long salute to meat created by Cathy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and Kim who is The Yummy Mummy. Although I missed out on duck prosciutto in January and bacon and pancetta in February, I was set for the March challenge of brining my very own (and first) brisket.
I was a lucky kid growing up knowing what a brisket should taste like. It was to be sliced thin to melt in your mouth and be perfectly seasoned with a slightly salt taste. Growing up in London, Ontario (population 330,000) didn’t offer the “big-city” options when it came to food as Montreal or Toronto. So on road trips to Montreal to visit my grandparents, we’d always stop at a butcher shop on the way back to London and load up the cooler (that we brought specifically for this mission) with brisket, salami and smoked meat.
As I’m currently in London these days, I was realistic of my options when I walked into the downtown market. I asked the organic butcher if they had a brisket and his response was “I have a roast that you can cut the strings off of and there’s your brisket”. I had a quick look at the roast/brisket and although it was a nice piece of meat, I immediately noticed it lacked a lot of the marbling that I was accustomed to growing up. But beggars can’t be choosers and off I went with my meat which from here on out will be referred to as “brisket” not “roast”.
The brisket was about 2.5 pounds or 1.1 kilograms in weight, so I cut all the ingredients in half from our Charcutepalooza bible Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. The recipe called for a 5 pound (2.25 kilogram) brisket, so I knew it also wouldn’t need the five days in the brine which was confirmed by Cathy and Michael (thanks guys). After three days in the brine, it got a good cold bath and then simmered away for 90 minutes. As an added bonus, I made my own pickling spice following Charcuterie’s recipe and tweaked it a bit with some additional spices to try and give it a bit more of a kick.
The results were very good and I was impressed with myself as evidenced by the brisket disappearing in a matter of days. But for a variety of reasons the brisket did not taste like I had remembered growing up. I know some reasons are real (I need to slice it thinner) and some others are just in my head (tough to duplicate childhood memories).
The brining experience was simple and surprisingly easy. In all, it was a great learning experience and I will certainly be doing it again. Next time, I’m going to channel my inner-deli and carve/shave like this.