Category Archives: Om Nom Nom Nom

In Which I Fail

Published / by Kim

I’m pretty adventurous in the kitchen and I can get quite experimental in there. Usually, my results are edible even if they don’t necessarily look so beautiful. Recently, I had a pretty spectacular failure. Of course, I didn’t have such a huge failure with less expensive ingredients like flour or rice. Nope. This was with a $30 piece of beef. Because that’s how I roll.

The recipe was homemade corned beef. It’s surprisingly easy to corn a brisket yourself. The two biggest obstacles – getting pink salt and making room in the fridge for the brining pot for five days – are pretty simple to overcome. So I toasted my herbs and cracked my pepper and other seeds. I boiled and cooled my brine and put the big, beautiful brisket into the cooled brine, weighed it down with a plate, and waited. Five days later, I took it out, rinsed it well, and set it in some fresh water to simmer with the rest of the pickling spice I made for the brine.

It was horrible. I don’t know where I went wrong in measuring, but the black pepper taste was overpowering. It burned our mouths. We made faces at each other and said, nearly simultaneously, “I can’t eat this.” I was very distraught that I rendered an expensive piece of meat completely inedible. Then I thought, what the hell, let’s see if we can ruin some potatoes and onions, too. At least they’re cheap. So I diced up some onions and potatoes and the corned beef and made corned beef hash. I used very little salt in it and absolutely no pepper, just a little Worcestershire sauce. And you know what? The beef was saved. Entirely saved. The resulting corned beef hash still has a bit of the pepper bite, but it’s really not bad at all.

My point is that even a failure in the kitchen can become, if not a triumph, then at least something you can eat. And if it turns out you can’t salvage it to eat, you can at least learn from the experience. I think a willingness to fail is key to learning anything.