Chances are good you’ve never had corned beef that’s made in-house. “You’d be hard-pressed to find places that make their own corned beef,” says Jeremy Umansky, chef/owner at Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, the former brick fire station in Hingetown where pastrami is, in fact, made in-house.
The very similar process requires a lot of time and space. “The longer you corn the beef the better it’s going to be,” says Umansky. “To invest time and infrastructure into one, two, four weeks in a walk-in fridge, that space can be used for items that turn over much more quickly.” Surprisingly, though, it’s actually very easy to make corned beef at home. The chef behind the James Beard Award-nominated spot shows us how. larderdb.com
Start with the right cut of meat.
Brisket is the traditional choice, but it’s expensive right now. “Subbing in a different cut such as navel, sirloin or top round gives you equally good results and saves some cash,” Umansky says. If you only want a pound, that’s fine. Ask your butcher for exactly what you want.
Don't skip the salt.
Pink salt cure No. 1 (with sodium nitrate, not Himilayan pink salt) is key for longevity and safety in curing. It also provides the signature pink hue instead of brownish-gray. It can be sourced online or at the West Side Market. “The risk is ridiculously low, but this is the minimum needed for producing a delicious and safe corned beef.”
Pickle to taste.
Use less pickling spices if you want, but don’t decrease the salt. Storebought or homemade pickling spice is fine.
Umansky urges home cooks to source meat from a local butcher, such as Yellow House Cheese, Saucisson or Ohio City Provisions. “Make it Cleveland style with a loaf of black bread from On The Rise bakery, some Cleveland Kraut and a bit of Middlefield baby Swiss.” As for Cleveland-made brown mustard, Umansky won’t take sides.
Jeremy Umansky’s Corned Beef recipe
This recipe is scaled to easily let you make as much or as little corned beef as you want. Simply adjust the recipe as needed by using the weight of your beef as the starting point. From there, calculate the percentages of the other ingredients based on how much the beef weighs. For deli-style thin slices, slice cold before baking the meat the final time.
1 kilogram beef (brisket, navel/belly, sirloin or top round)
50 grams pickling spice (5% of weight of meat)
20 grams salt (2%)
2.5 grams pink salt cure No. 1 (sodium nitrate, not Himalayan pink salt) (0.25%)
10 grams white miso (1%)
Combine pickling spice, salt, cure No. 1 and miso. Rub combination on meat and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place wrapped meat in a glass or plastic container. To cure, keep in fridge for at least one week and up to one month, flipping the meat every day. The longer the better. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Unwrap meat and place on a resting rack in the bottom of a baking dish. Add enough water to cover the resting rack but not the meat. Cover baking dish and bake for two to three hours or until tender. Leave corned beef in the baking dish to chill overnight. The next day preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the corned beef, covered, for about an hour or until heated through. Slice and serve.