Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Butcher Shop...

...actually, truth be told, it was on the way home from the butcher shop.

It's that time of year again that I start working on the St. Patrick's Day menu.  This year I'll take pictures.  Promise.
As the discussion of brisket started (I think The Husband was super excited that this meant I'd be eating meat, if only for an evening), it was suggested that I obtain two briskets instead of one.
"Get two.  I'll make a pastrami out of one, and we'll do corned beef with the other."
A chance for The Husband to use the smoker made way him more interested in the discussion than in past years, when it was basically, "OK, sure, whatever.  What time are we eating?"
So, the dutiful wife that I am, I called around to the local grocery stores and butcher shops (as much as there are) here in the East Valley.
Boy, was I in luck - Midwestern Meats, a local butcher shop up in Mesa, was offering untrimmed brisket for $3.99/pound - a total steal considering the next best price was $6.99/pound.
So, before picking HRH up from school the other day, I stopped working a touch early and drove to get myself a few briskets.
This was my first field trip to Midwestern Meats, and they were busy!  Wow!  I didn't expect the butcher shop portion (there is also a restaurant and bakery) to be that packed, so I was a little thrown.  Also distracting were the different freezer and refrigerator cases, where I nabbed a few beef bones and bag of frozen food for Zooey as the young man went to the back to get my order: two briskets (I told you I was a dutiful wife - I listened to The Husband and did just what he told me to do).
Since it had been a year since my last brisket purchase, I didn't really think too much of the size of the briskets that landed on the counter in front of me with the proverbial thud.  Further distracted by the sausage "arena," it was at this juncture that I accidentally paid with the credit card rather than the debit, but that very shortly became the least of my worries.
On the way home, it suddenly dawned on me that I had just spent $100 on two briskets, and last year I most certainly did NOT spend $50 on one.  So, taking my life in my hands, I dug out the receipt from my bag and managed to find and open the calculator app on my iPhone.  Hmm... $100... $3.99/pound... Oh. My. BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPING Word!  That's 25 pounds of meat that was sitting in the back of my car in the cooler I had rather intelligently brought!  OMGOMGOMG!!!

Even simple math is hard when you are driving 75 mph and trying not to freak out over meat, OK?  I could normally have calculated that in my head were I not panicking that I'd have to invite the entire Russian Army over in order to make a dent in my purchase of basically what - in my head - had just become an entire side of a cow.  But basically, I was panicking, getting a case of The Meat Sweats before I even had a chance to prepare - much less eat - same meat.

When HRH and I got home, the brisket had to hang out in the cooler before I was able to get the brine made.  For the past three years, I have used Alton Brown's corned beef brine recipe (it's awesome, as is everything AB does).  This year was no different.
Except that it was.
I had to quadruple the recipe in order to get all the brisket submerged.  Because nothing says "You just bought a s*** ton of meat" like quadrupling a brine recipe.
I had to make the brine in two batches because I didn't make enough the first time (I only tripled it).
By this point, I had only had the guts to text The Husband, who was in a late meeting that evening, with "I have never seen brisket this big."  I got nauseated thinking about how I was going to tell him how much meat "brisket this big" actually was.
Spoiler: I tried to let him figure it out himself, but today, 5 days in, he said, "There's just one brisket in there, right?"  To which I had to respond, "There are two in there."  To his credit, he didn't flinch.  But I'm pretty sure he is calculating how much meat we have now.  I'm expecting a discussion about that later.  At which time I shall direct him to this post.

Back to the brine.
Because the briskets are so large, we didn't have room in the fridge, and our second fridge is currently out of commission, a fuse having blown in the garage that has not been restored.  So I made sure the cooler was very clean and poured the cooled brine in before returning the briskets to their salty bath.  Then I piled ice on top of it.
The Husband is now freaking out (which doesn't help me in my whole "OMG I JUST GOT A TON OF MEAT" freakout that I've been in since Wednesday) that we are going to kill everyone because we can't as easily control the temperature of the cooler as we can in a refrigerator situation, so today we are discussing how to manipulate the contents of the refrigerator in order to squeeze them in there.  We'll have to cut them in half, but considering their Brobdingnagian stature, we'll need to cut them in half in order to manage them while serving, so that's not a huge deal - just a matter of when.
The top two ideas are to buy two disposable oven roasters and have the brisket swim in those on the bottom shelf OR empty the crisper and store the brisket, ensconced in zip-top bags, there.
So, basically, if you stop hearing from me after March 17, I have either exploded from eating too much meat, or I have, in fact, killed us all, in a glamorous, made for an after school special, Sister Julia (child of God) style.
But if that's the case, don't plan on pictures.

Update #1 - 2:40 PM - I elected to make a new brine and use zip top bags for the now 4 briskets to hang out in the veggie crispers.  Both of them.  Because each crisper only held two meat-and-brine-filled zip top bags.  There was no commentary from The Husband when I lifted each behemoth out of the cooler, but I think the shock of the amount of meat we currently own is starting to set in.


  1. So basically I now have a mental image of you brining a brisket the size of HRH. You really do need to post some pics of this adventure. It sounds like it has every chance of being epic. PS - That's going to be one hell of a meat hangover next Sunday.

  2. HRH weighs 35 pounds, so the brisket IS nearly as large as she is. I will try to take some pics and have a follow up edition later. :)