Yes, it's time to celebrate.
I started the planning early for this and decided to corn my own beef. As it turns out, corned beef isn't really "corned"... it's pickled! So I turned to trust Alton Brown for his take on how to do it myself.
His recipe, which is almost exactly what I did (spare one thing that couldn't be found) can be found here.
You can also watch the Serious Eats about it here and here.
My recipe is below:
2 quarts water
1 1/2 cup Morton's Tender Quick
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
12 whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 lbs ice
1 big ol slap of meat (I used a 7 lb eye of round, brisket would fantastic as well)
Mix everything but the ice together in a big ol pot. Heat it on high until the salt and sugar dissolve. Then take it from the heat and add the ice. You want it at 45 degrees, so refrigerate if you need. I didn't.
Add it to a 2 gallon bag and then put the slab of meat in there with it. Put it in a drawer so that if the bag breaks it's contained.
It will take 10 days for the magic to happen. Turn it every day to make sure the meat is covered.
When it's time to go, take it out of the brine and rinse it completely. Trim any fat and stick it in a slow cooker with enough water to cover. Cook it on slow for... a really long time. I was afraid mine wasn't going to be done by the time people came over and I kicked it up to high and really dried it out. In the end, it was still quite tasty though.
Interesting thing about the picture: the grey spot in the middle of some of the slices is where the nitrates from the tender quick didn't get to... not bad spots.
I also made two sauces to go with it that I'll write about later.