Corning meat usually uses a brine method. A brine is simply a wet marinade for the meat, one that usually includes a variety of spices, salt and sugar. The spice combination can vary from cook to cook, family to family – especially for those who have a tradition of making it by hand. But for this chef, I use a simple pickling spice off the store shelf – I prefer the McCormick brand. The trick to getting great-looking – i.e., pink – corned meat is Insta Cure #1, otherwise known as pink salt. Arguments can be made for and against pink salt – it is your call; I use it.
2 quarts water, hot
½ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon Insta Cure #1 (Prague powder or Speed Cure)
3 tablespoon pickling spice
3 pounds elk neck roast (or other red meat you wish to corn)
½ head green cabbage
2 pounds red potatoes, cut in half
1 pound baby carrots
In a high-sided Tupperware or other food-safe storage vessel add the hot water. Stir in the salt, cure and the pickling spice. Stir until all the salt is absorbed. Add the neck roast. Refrigerate for one day per inch of thickness of the meat. For example – a 4-inch-thick section of neck meat will need four days in the brine; a 1-inch section will only need one day. The time spent in the brine allows the meat to better absorb the flavors.
When the meat is cured, drain off one quart of the brine water. Keep as much of the spice blend as possible. Add back one quart of fresh water to the container. Transfer all to a crock pot, set on low and cook for six to eight hours (I put my meat in the crock before work), or basically until a fork stuck into it can turn very easily. This will make your house smell awesome, by the way.
When the roast is cooked, taste the liquid it is cooking in. It should be salty, but not overly so. If it is too salty, simply add water until it has the salt level you prefer. Strain off the cooking liquid, making sure to reserve it. Discard the spices.
Add the cabbage, potatoes and carrots to a large soup pot. Add just enough of the cooking liquid to cover the vegetables, then top with the corned meat. Simmer all together until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Shred the meat with a fork and serve hot. If needed, season with salt and pepper.
For more big game, game bird and fish recipes, see chefrandyking.com.