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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

brining a brisket

This photo was taken at Mick's Pub in Willoughby where a corned beef dinner is as easy as it can be. There are, however, several ways to approach corned beef and cabbage at home.
It takes 8 days to brine a beef brisket to make a corned beef, so I was amazed to receive several emails this morning asking for the recipe. I made that offer in the middle of a Wednesday Food story in which I shared my own personal recipe for corned beef and cabbage. That dish takes 3 hours to cook with an already prepared corned beef brisket from the supermarket.
Because of the interest shown, I am repeating the brining process here. If you decide to do it, let me know.


6 cups water
2 cups lager beer
1-1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Insta Cure No.1 (Optional - see note)
1/4 cup pickling spice
1 6-to-8 pound flat cut beef brisket, trimmed (some fat should remain)
Pour water and beer into large deep roasting pan. Add coarse salt and stir until dissolved. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. If desired, stir optional in Insta Cure No. 1. Mix in pickling spices. Pierce brisket all over with tip of small sharp knife. Submerge brisket in liquid, then top with a heavy platter to weigh it down. Cover and refrigerate for four days.
Remove brisket from brine. Stir liquid to blend. Return brisket to brine and top with heavy platter. Cover and refrigerate four more days.
Remove brisket from brine. Rinse with cold, running water.
Can be made four days ahead. Wrap corned beef in plastic. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Simmer 3 hours following instructions.

Note: The Insta Cure No. 1 is available at
It’s a mixture of sodium nitrate and salt that’s used in smoked sausages to prevent botulism. Its only purpose in this corned beef brine is to prevent the meat from turning gray.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday fish and dinner deals

That's Gavi chef Mike Valentino with a luncheon Friday fish fry. It's breaded tilapia with homemade cole slaw and two hand-made pierogies, priced st $7.95 for lunch with a larger portion served with three pierogies, priced at $14.95, for dinner. The pierogies come from St. Andrews Church in Parma, according to proprieter Dave Gromelski, who tells us they won Cleveland's Magazine's "Best Of" award.
The same meals are also served at Sara's Place, the sister restaurant in Gates Mills.
I learned about the Friday Lenten fish fry last night when I joined a friend for happy hour there. We spent $17 total for dinner and a beer each. Gavi's is considered a high-end establishment so the prices were really unexpected. The 4 to 7 p.m. happy hour deals run Tuesday through Friday. The choices are billed as appetizers but we found the servings to be plenty for dinner. We each had Italian sausage sauteed with sweet peppers, onions and marinara served in puff pastry shells. Other choices for $5 include sliders of the day, spinach artichoke dip, fish taco, an all beef hotdog baked in pastry. For $6.50 , there's a choice between a dozen mussels or an 8-slice pizza. We saw several groups of friends ordering a couple of items and sharing themed
The Lake County Bar Crawl, featured in a recent News-Herald Food section, proved beyond a doubt that people are hungry for a $20-per-couple meal with a beer. Three of the four places featured in the Crawl broke their all-time one-day records during the promotion and got many new customers. The fourth restaurant — the Wright Place in Willoughby Hills — has its designated day this Sunday, so we'll see how that goes.
Patrons who go to all four bars on their designated days each get a $25 gift certificate. It's a win-win scenario for everyone especially the patrons who get out and about in a season when cabin fever makes us all a little crazy.
Let me hear about the deals you've found and where you've found them. We're all in this together after all.