Ultimate Meat Guide: How to Brine Like They Do at Challah

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Catie Randazzo uses a signature brine to turn brisket into corned beef for dishes on her food truck, Challah. But brines aren't limited to beef, she says. "It's a great way to tenderize any meat."

To make the brine, start with equal parts salt and sugar. (Salt breaks down the meat; sugar gives it extra flavor.)

Then add Prague salt (pink curing salt), which prevents meat from spoiling during the process, and a mix of herbs and spices. Randazzo uses clove, allspice, coriander, yellow mustard seeds, cinnamon, thyme, bay leaves and garlic.

Add the ingredients to a mix of roughly chopped carrots, celery and onion and add water-enough to completely cover the meat. Boil the mixture for five to eight minutes until the salt and sugar dissolve. "In doing this, the herbs and spices are cooking into the water," Randazzo says. "That's where all that tasty goodness comes from."

Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then submerge the meat and keep it refrigerated for five to seven days. For even juicier results, use a syringe to inject the meat with the brine once a day.

To cook the shredded corned beef she uses on her truck, Randazzo brings the beef and a mixture of water, herbs, spices and vegetables (everything but the salt and sugar) to a boil, then simmers it for a full 24 hours. If you'll be slicing the beef instead of shredding it, a five- to eight-hour simmer would suffice.

Beverage pairing:Randazzo recommends enjoying an old fashioned, a red ale or a stout with her corned beef.