I have no Irish blood, but I LOVE corned beef. I literally look forward to making it every year. The salty pickle-y stewy meat doused in a spicy stout mustard, makes me weak in the knees. This year however one of our goals is to give up beef, and Corned Beef along with Xmas Eve’s Beef Bourguignon were my two areas of anxiety. Anxiety. So as March crept in I began frantically researching corned alternatives. Would they be good? Would they satisfy my craving?
I did a happy dance when I found recipe after recipe for corned pork! Even more research and I found out that corned pork is actually more legitimately Irish. To my surprise corned beef is not Irish by tradition, its Jewish. Cows were not as readily available in Ireland as pigs, if you think about the amount of space and resources a cow demands in comparison to a pig it makes complete sense. When the Irish immigrated to America beef was very inexpensive and the Jewish were already corning it so they adopted it, quickly making it their own. Many years later one can’t think about St. Patty’s day without corned beef.
I dug through recipe after recipe and finally settled on creating my own, taking the best from them all. I brined it for only two days. Most of the recipes called for a 1-2 day brining for pork compared to two weeks for beef which makes planning way less daunting. Love that. The pork shoulder is a rather large piece of meat and would not fit in my largest container so I had it wrapped only in paper that I could compost. I used pickling salt but you could use any salt that you have around. I made my own combination of pickling spices since its not available in bulk near me.
- (1) 3 1/2 lb bone in pork shoulder
- 1 cup salt
- 64 oz water
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tsp pickling spices
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp himalayan pink salt
To make the brine bring water, sugar, salts and spices to a boil and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Let cool completely. Start with a little less water and add some ice cubes if you are short on time. Once its cool pour into a pickling crock or bowl that can be covered. submerge shoulder under mixture. Make sure to weigh it down so it stays completely covered with liquid. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 days.
- Six Garlic Cloves
- 1 tsp pickling spices
When you are ready to cook remove the shoulder from the brine and rinse with cold water. Cut 6 slits into side of pork and stuff with garlic. Place pork in a pot, cover with water, add pickling spices and bring to a boil. Cover reduce heat and simmer for 3 hrs. Serve hot with your favorite spicy mustard. Yum!
We served ours with colcannon, my Grandma’s mustard carrots, and a green salad with a pumpkin seed dressing. Did we miss the beef? No. The texture is right, the flavor is wonderful, and when my hubby accidentally composted the left overs I cried. It’s that good.
So skip the plastic wrapped resource consuming beef and choose a lighter option this St. Patricks’s Day; One you can make yourself easily from scratch!