NEW BUFFALO – The St. Paddy’s Corned Beef Chef Night sponsored by the Friends of New Buffalo Township Library on March 7 began with two disclaimers.
First, guest Joe Lindsay said he wasn’t really a “Chef” but a “Deli Man,” a calling he has fostered since taking a summer job at David’s Deli while in high school. Now he is proprietor of David’s Deli & Coffee, 30 N. Whittaker, New Buffalo.
The second disclaimer from Lindsay was that corned beef isn’t really an Irish dish, although he did concede it might be considered an “American Irish” dish, with the brining of the brisket done to preserve the meat in the days before modern refrigeration.
“Corned beef is one of my most favorite things to discuss and this is a good time of year because everyone is interested,” Lindsay said, adding that his enthusiasm is shared with his business partner and wife Emma Brewster.
During the hour-long discussion, Lindsay shared a lot of solid, practical tips on how to prepare a brisket the corned beef way. Lindsay should know since David’s Deli has sponsored a corned beef cook-off charity benefit for the past eight years. Proceeds from this year’s event, scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 17, will benefit the Friends of Harbor Country Trail’s efforts supporting the Marquette Greenway.
Describing it as “eating pickled beef for a good cause,” Lindsay said the afternoon features unlimited tastings of more than a dozen corned beefs from both local and Midwest kitchens, including Manny’s Deli in Chicago and Detroit’s Grobbel’s, coupled with some of the trimmings like cabbage and potatoes. There is a $15 donation. Beer, wine and Irish whiskey are extra.
Lindsay shared his recipe for corned beef brine (below) which should be refrigerated seven days in advance in a large container, such as the refrigerator crisper drawer. He emphasized the use of kosher salt as key. Another word of caution: rinse the brine from the brisket before cooking, something he said he learned the hard way.
Lindsay also shared the recipe for his preferred “Toronto Style” of cooking (below). He did not include cooking times since it all depends on the size of the brisket. He strongly recommends a digital meat thermometer to assure the brisket reaches 155 degrees when done.
True “deli man” that he is, Lindsay ended his Chef Night appearance with a plea to save the traditional deli culture which he considers an institution that represents imagination and an important way that people get fed and ideas get exchanged.
Corned Beef Brine
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup pickling spices
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pink salt (optional)
1 beef brisket
1 large plastic container
Lay the brisket into the container with the garlic and pickling spice. Whisk the kosher salt, brown sugar and pink salt into the water until all the solids dissolve. Pour the liquid into the container to cover the brisket. Refrigerate for seven says. After removing the brisket from the brine, rinse thoroughly with cold water before cooking.
Toronto Style Cooking Method
1 raw corned beef brisket
Pickling spice to cover
Deep Roasting Pan with rack
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the brisket into the roasting pan on top of the rack. Cover the top of the brisket with pickling spice. Pour enough water into the pan so it’s just below the bottom of the brisket. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the brisket. For deli-style sandwiches, remove and let cool before slicing. For a more “falling apart” texture, turn the oven off, cover the roasting pan with foil and place back in the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour.