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IPFS News Link • Food

How to Make Your Own Lunch Meat


As we all know, inflation is hitting everyone in their pocketbooks.  A few years ago, a pound of deli roast beef was going for $6.99 for the store brand and the top shelf brand was going for $9.99 a pound.  Now, the store brand is going for $14.99 a pound!  I don't even want to think about what the top shelf stuff is going for.  Another thing I noticed was in the pre-sliced grab-n-go case, the deli meats and cheeses are being sold in half pound portions rather then the pound they were previously.  I have even read news reports some people on the lower end of the socio-economic scale were skipping meals just to make ends meet.

Meat Selection and the Power of Salt
I checked the meat case for a cheap cut of meat.  Surprisingly, I found a chuck roast for $4.99 a pound.  In the past, eye of round has been at or about that price, but this week, eye of round was going for $6.99 a pound.  I selected a 2.59 pound chuck roast with a fat cap on one side.  

Using the book Charcuterie, The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, (I highly recommend this book!) I made a basic brine.   Brining meat does three things:

1) It changes the meat cells at the molecular level, allowing the cells to plump with water, thereby making the meat moist.  You can do the same thing with turkey to prevent it from drying at Thanksgiving dinner.  I have done that in the past.  

2) It infuses whatever seasoning or flavors you want to add. I made the above-mentioned Thanksgiving turkey with an Earl Grey tea infusion. It turned out great!

3)  The salt acts as a preservative, preventing bacteria from forming in the short term, more so than unbrined meat.

The basic brine is:

1 gallon/4 liters of water
¾ cup/200 grams of kosher salt
½ cup/125 grams of sugar