Kitchen experiments

This weekend I rode my bicycle down to the Sunday afternoon stitch ‘n bitch that one of the groups in San Antonio has each week. It was a sparse showing this time – just me and Courtney, the violist who lends a little bit of high-brow cred to our little group. We talked at length about podcasts and the various places we’ve traveled in the country, which got us to talking about Portland. Which, of course, led to me buying some brisket after the knitting.

Let me back up a second.

I went to Reed College in Portland from 1990-1992 and I absolutely loved the city. Unfortunately, when I was there I was still in the phase of my life where I was not very comfortable in cities, so I spent most of my time in Portland in the southeast section of the city (which Courtney accurately described as a hippy enclave). I did get into the downtown section a few times, but not nearly as much as I now wished I had. So a few months ago when Lilith invited me up there for a wedding, we explored downtown as much as we could.

One of the places we found was Kenny & Zuke’s, home of the most orgasmically delicious pastrami sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. Since then I have seen their sandwiches in my dreams. They haunt me, teasing my palate with memories of warm, tender corned beef . . . drool.

Ahem. Excuse me.

A recent issue of Bon Appetite had a recipe for making homemade corned beef, and our conversation got me thinking about the wonderful food from Kenny & Zuke’s, so I bought the ingredients at my local Central Market and went to work.


There’s not really much to do in the beginning – mix water, beer, salt, brown sugar, and pickling spices, then submerge the brisket and let it sit, refrigerated, for four days.

Immersed brisket:


In four days I’ll turn it and let it sit another four days. Then comes the boiling with vegetables, and then I plan to try smoking it to see if I can replicate the wonderful crust that was on the meat I got in Portland. I’ll post pictures of the finished product when it’s done. I didn’t use any special salts to preserve the pinkness of the meat, so what I end up with will probably be on the grey side, but I’m hoping for deliciousness.

No Responses to “Kitchen experiments”

  1. bezzie Says:

    One of the things I love about being a nomad is coming to find delicious foods that make you miss a place. Props to you for trying to recreate one! You’ll have to let us know how it turns out!

  2. Roadchick Says:

    I cooked a corned beef in the crockpot for St. Patrick’s Day this year. It was the most tender, delicious corned beef I’ve ever had.

    You may want to try that for the cooking part – I watched Good Eats with Alton Brown a few weeks ago (or so) where he was making his own corned beef at home.

    I have to admit I’m a little too lazy for all that, but yours looks delicious! Enjoy!

  3. Enid Says:

    Alton Brown – is a master at breaking it down into the most logical and calculated steps to making the best of anything. 😀

    When’s lunch?

  4. Plum Texan Says:

    Maude bless Central Market. One good reason to stay in TX… :) And a good reason to travel in TX: Houston boasts no less than two fabulous delis – one of them called, interestingly, Kenny & Ziggy’s.

    Definitely check out Alton’s info on making the stuff, at least for comparison…

  5. Suzy Says:

    When should I show up for the testing portion of this experiment in deliciousness? I haven’t seen you in ages, don’t ya know, and a good Corned Beef is just the ticket! Yummy!

  6. Juno Says:

    So, how’d it work? Is it done? Was it yummy? Huh, huh?

  7. Courtney Says:

    I just made arrangements to visit Portland in June and I’ll definitely keep Kenny & Zuke’s in mind.

  8. mom Says:


  9. Kim Says:

    Oh, I love Kenny & Zukes! Their corned beef hash breakfast is the best I’ve ever had! I hope this turns out yummy. Keep us posted on its progress!