For those who wouldn't miss eating corned beef this St. Patrick's Day, consider celebrating the holiday by tasting and rating a wide range of corned beefs this St. Patrick's Day when David's Delicatessen and Coffee in New Buffalo hosts their 3rd Annual Corned Beef Off. That's when owners Joe Lindsay and Emma Brewster serve a plethora of corned beefs, some 300 pounds in all, ordered from such corned beef capitols as Chicago and New York as well as a few from Michigan, especially Detroit which has its own claims on corned beef fame.
"For this event we get the corned beefs from different purveyors,"
says Lindsay who was starting to corn or pickle the beefs for the upcoming event a week in advance. "They all have different flavors depending on the beef purveyors and the farms they get their meat from."
Included in the list this year are those made by United Meat & Deli, whose owner, Sy Ginsberg, often is touted as the Corn Beef King of Detroit. His brined brisket sold under the brand of Sy Ginsberg Corned Beef, is the only corned beef featured at the much lauded Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor. Described as a Jewish style corned beef because of it a sweet, garlicky flavor (Irish style has flavors picked up by simmering in a broth with bay leaves, cloves and other spices), Ginsberg's companies sells an average of 125,000 pounds of corned beefs to delis across the country - an amount that triples around St.
Chicago corned beefs are represented by Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen, which first opened in 1942.
"We're also getting one from Vienna Beef as well," says Lindsay about another venerable Chicago deli which first started serving food to customers in 1897. "We also ordered corned beefs from Empire National and Carnegie in New York City. "We call places that we like or want to try."
The idea, says Lindsay, is to let customers taste each one and then vote on its taste. Besides that, for the $10 entry fee, they can eat all the corned beef sandwiches they want.
Even more locally - in fact, just down the street - the in-house corned beef brisket made by Pat Mullins, who with his wife Ellie, owns P & E Local, a sustainable foods and cured meat purveyor in New Buffalo, will also be served at the Corned Beef Cook-off.
"We make a traditional corned beef," says Mullins. "It's brined in a pickling spice and then slowly poached in a pickling solution. In all it's about a four day process."
The Mullins usually get their beef briskets from Middlebrook Farm in Three Oaks where they raise 100% grass-fed Lowline Angus and is owned by Pat's mother, Jan Schuttler, and her husband, Bob. But this year, all Middlebrook Farm's briskets are going to David's Delicatessen so the Mullins are getting their meats from Swan Creek Heritage Farm in Allentown, Michigan.
"They raise Herford cattle," he says, "it's a beef breed that's grass fed and then corn finished."
Mullins estimates that there's a 30% reduction in size after trimming, brining and cooking a corn beef which can make it an expensive proposition. But corned beef made from good meat has a wonderful taste.
"We'll sending most of our briskets over to David's Deli after their brined," he says, "but we'll have a few here to sell as well."
Mullins recommends cooking their corned beef briskets in chicken stock with an addition of an Irish beer such as Harp's or Guinness. His recipe is below.
"The cooking time depends on whether you're adding potatoes," he says.
"That takes a little longer."
Both Local and David's Delicatessen adhere to the concept of tradition. For the Mullins, it's about curing meats and making sausages the way butcher shops did in the past. For Lindsay and Brewster, who can and preserve much of the summer's produce from area farmers, it's all about saving the quintessential and iconic delis that once were predominant.
"We try to be the hub in a community," says Lindsay whose deli is located in Victorian era commercial building in downtown Whitaker with the original white pressed tin ceiling and hardwood floors. "Forever, the delis in New York City were not only a place for getting great food but also for getting together. The corned beef cook-off for us is a way of celebrating our commitment to our community and using food as teaching about history and culture."
The following recipes are from David's Delicatessen:
1 gallon hot water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons pink curing salt, optional but it does keep meat pinkish
4 tablespoons pickling spice
3 cloves garlic
3-5 pound beef brisket
Dissolve salt, spices and sugar in hot water. Add garlic cloves. Place brisket in a plastic contain or a heavy duty Ziploc bag. Place in refrigerator for a week. Remove and rinse really well. Simmer or roast until brisket reaches an internal temperature of 155° F according to a meat thermometer. Serve hot or cold.
The following recipe is from P & E Local:
3 to 5 pound corned beef brisket
3 to 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cabbage, quartered and cored
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 to 1 cup Irish beer
Place corned beef and vegetables in a large pot and cover with liquids, adding more chicken stock, beer or water if needed. Cover the pan and simmer until beef and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
Remove beef and vegetables from pan. Slice the corned beef and serve along with cooked vegetables.