This Best Cut Of Corned Beef For Corned Beef And Cabbage is the best cut of corned beef for corned beef and cabbage. It’s not just an opinion, it’s a fact.
A lot goes into choosing the best cut of corned beef for your St Patrick’s Day celebration. Good news though: I’ve got you covered. This article will give you a quick overview of what makes corned beef tick, as well as my top pick for the best cut – or rather, best cuts – of corned beef.
Classic Corned Beef and Cabbage
This tender, fall-apart corned beef will make your St. Patrick’s Day dinner the talk of the town! Serve it with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to make your holiday dinner complete.
A long-simmered one-pot meal of corned beef cooked to perfection and served with tender cabbage, potatoes, and carrots would please any Irish-American on St. Patrick’s Day. Add some mustard or a creamy horseradish sauce, and you have a true celebration. (Step back from the green beer, people!)
What Is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is most often a flat-cut brisket, but sometimes it’s made from beef round that has been cured with salt. Large grained rock salt, called “corns” of salt (one of several explanations why it’s called corned beef), was used when people began to preserve meat by salt-curing.
How Do I Buy Corned Beef?
The preferred cut of corned beef is a flat brisket. There are two kinds of prepared corned beef: with or without nitrates. In a clever but confusing marketing strategy, corned beef that has been cured without chemical nitrates (using celery juice, which, full disclosure, contains sodium nitrate) is often labeled ‘uncured,’ which is misleading.
If the label says corned beef, it is cured! That’s the bottom line. You can buy it cured with natural or chemical nitrates, but it is cooked in the same way regardless of the mind-boggling labeling.
Corned beef usually comes in a package filled with a liquid solution, which is the brine. Due to the curing salts used, the meat is slightly pink, and typically has a spice packet.
Instead of using the spice packet, I discard it and add my own mix of spices.
Is Corned Beef Really Irish?
There is some of debate on this subject. As early as the 17th century in rural Ireland, a large loin of cured pork might simmer in a pot over the fire, and some cabbage would be thrown in to cook along with it. However, it would be safe to say that these days, Irish people rarely eat it for a festive meal, and the St. Patrick’s Day celebration itself is purely American.
One theory of its popularity in the United States is that Irish immigrants brought the memory of this dish with them to America. In fact, in Boston, where I live, we call it a New England Boiled Dinner, and it arrived on our shores along with the many Irish immigrants who settled here.
A hunk of meat and some cabbage thrown into a pot for hours doesn’t sound too appealing, but in this version, the meat simmers first, and then the vegetables are cooked in the broth after the meat is cooked, so they don’t become drab versions of themselves from overcooking in the pot!
I find this plain dish pleasurable and appealing; it’s worth making more than once a year.
Simmer It in the Oven, Not on the Stovetop
Instead of boiling, the meat actually simmers gently in the oven, like pot roast. Bring it to a boil on top of the stove with some onions and spices—and then cook it, covered, low and slow in the oven.
The steady, low oven temperature allows the meat to cook evenly. Once it’s done, transfer the meat from the broth to a baking sheet or baking dish, and bake it for about 10 minutes in a hot oven to give the top a golden brown crust.
Let it rest before slicing, and while it is resting, cook the vegetables. The potatoes should go in first to get a head start, and the carrots and cabbage go in five minutes later, so that all the vegetables are tender at once.
How to Serve Corned Beef and Cabbage
Slice the meat across the grain and set it on a big platter. Surround it with the cabbage wedges, potatoes, and carrots. Pour a ladle or two of the broth over the platter; sprinkle parsley on top, and set the platter in the center of the table for diners to help themselves.
Serve with the mustard of your choice, and if you like, with a sour cream and horseradish sauce. In Ireland, corned beef might be served with parsley sauce, which is essentially a white sauce made with lots of chopped parsley. I riffed on that idea with sour cream, horseradish, and parsley for a quick, no-cook version.
Make-Ahead Corned Beef
I usually make corned beef in two stages, just for convenience. I like getting a head start, so I am not rushing. Cook the meat on day one, then strain the cooking liquid, and refrigerate them separately until you are ready to put the meal together.
The meat is a breeze to slice evenly after it cools, and the fat of the refrigerated broth rises to the top and solidifies, so it is easy to remove. Here are the steps:
Day 1: Cook the meat. Strain the broth. Store them separately in the fridge overnight.
- Cook the corned beef in the oven in the broth.
- Remove the meat from the broth and brown it in the oven, as directed above.
- Store the cooked corned beef in the fridge in a container or on a platter, covered with a lid or foil.
- Strain the broth into a container. Store it in the fridge overnight.
Day 2 or 3: Slice and warm the meat in the oven while you cook the vegetables.
- Preheat the oven to 350oF.
- Remove and discard the fat from the refrigerated broth, and reheat the broth in a large pot.
- Slice the meat and place it in a shallow baking dish. Add about two ladles of broth; cover the dish with foil, and reheat it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot.
- Meanwhile, cook the vegetables as directed in the recipe.
- Assemble the platter and serve!
Ways to Use Up Leftover Corned Beef
- Make an improvised soup—cut up the vegetables and add them to the leftover broth (if it’s not too salty). Otherwise, add them to beef or chicken stock. Add chunks of corned beef if there are any, or make an entirely new soup, adding chunks of cooked sausage, chicken, or other vegetables.
Classic Corned Beef and Cabbage
PREP TIME10 mins
COOK TIME4 hrs
TOTAL TIME4 hrs 10 mins
Corned beef often comes with a spice packet. For this version, I discard the packaged spices, and instead make my own blend for a more flavorful, satisfying brisket.
For the corned beef
- 1 flat-cut corned beef brisket (about 4 pounds)
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 6 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), halved, or quartered, if large
- 1 small head cabbage (about 1 3/4 pounds), outer tough leaves removed and cut into 6 wedges
- 12 slender carrots (about 1 pound), peeled and left whole
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Dijon or grainy mustard, for serving
For the horseradish sauce (Optional)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish in brine, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Make the horseradish sauce (optional):In a bowl, stir the sour cream and milk together until blended. Stir in the lemon juice, horseradish, and mustard. Add the salt, pepper, and parsley, and taste. Add more horseradish or lemon juice, if you like. Cover and set in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Preheat the oven:Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Prepare the meat for braising:Discard the spice packet that came with the beef. In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot, place the brisket, mustard seed, coriander seed, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, and onion quarters. Add enough cold water to just cover the meat.
- Braise the meat:Over medium heat on the stovetop, bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 3 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the meat from the broth with tongs and transfer it to a shallow baking dish or baking sheet.
- Brown the meat:Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Place the corned beef in the oven with a ladle of stock, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top browns. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest while you cook the vegetables. Turn off the oven.
- Strain the stock, cook the vegetables, and slice the meat:In a fine mesh strainer, strain the stock and return it to the pot. Add the salt. With a ladle, skim the fat that rises to the top. Bring it to a boil.Add the potatoes and adjust the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage wedges and carrots, cover and bring to a simmer again. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage are tender.Transfer them to a deep platter, cover with foil, and keep them warm in the turned-off oven.
- Slice and serve the corned beef:Slice the beef across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer them to the platter with the vegetables, and spoon a few ladles of stock over the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with mustard and/or horseradish sauce.
|NUTRITION FACTS(PER SERVING)|
THE BEST CUT OF CORNED BEEF — FLAT VS POINT
Corned beef is just comforting. Whether it’s corned beef breakfast hash on a slow Sunday morning or a St. Patrick’s day get together featuring the classic combo of corned beef, onions, potatoes, and cabbage, few other foods are so rich in flavor without feeling fancy or showy. Corned beef is food for family, friends, and community, and that’s what makes it special.
When it comes to cooking corned beef, there are definitely some dos and don’ts.
In this article, we’re going to cover:
- What corned beef is
- The best cut for corned beef
- Flat vs. point cuts
- How to choose the best corned beef cut at a store
- Where to buy the best corned beef cuts
- How to cook corned beef like a pro
- A few of our favorite corned beef recipes
WHAT IS CORNED BEEF?
Corned beef is simply salt-cured beef, most often made from the brisket. Originally cured with just salt, it became common over the years to add additional spices to the brining process such as juniper, black pepper, and mustard seeds.
Corned beef gets its famous color from a chemical compound called sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite adds flavor and helps prevent bacterial growth for longer shelf stability. Because it’s toxic in concentrated amounts, it’s dyed pink so people don’t confuse it with table salt. Some chefs also swap beet juice to get the color without using a chemical[*].
Curing a brisket for corned beef usually takes between 7-10 days, and the process is essentially just creating a salty brining liquid, submerging your beef in the solution, and keeping it in your fridge for a while. You can either cure it yourself or buy pre-brined corned beef from the store.
Corned beef is served in three primary ways: in corned beef hash, in sandwiches such as the reuben, and sliced alongside cabbage and carrots. Cooking corned beef always involves a low and slow method. This is because the brisket and other meats used for corned beef are sinewy and tough, and you need low heat to break down the collagen and coax out the best texture.
THE BEST CUT OF BEEF FOR CORNED BEEF
When it comes to making corned beef, there’s really only one choice: the brisket — and the flat cut, specifically. Anytime you buy pre-brined corned beef from the store, it’s safe to assume it’s a brisket.
If you don’t have access to brisket and/or are brining your own, you can also make corned beef from any beef round cut (located near the steer’s hindquarters). This may not have the exact taste you’re thinking of, but it will get you close and still be delicious.
Why brisket? Well, tradition! Brisket used to be a cheap cut due to its tough texture, and finding ways to make it delicious were challenges the Irish were up for. Apart from that, brisket is a delicious and meaty meat. It has a distinct flavor that grillers and corned beef lovers the world over have grown to love. Let’s talk a bit more about what brisket is.
What is the brisket primal and why is it best for corned beef?
The brisket is one of the primal (fundamental butcher cuts) taken from the lower breast area of the steer.
This is a big and lean cut of meat, and it usually weighs between 10 and 20 pounds. Because the brisket is used so much in the steer’s life, it is filled with collagen and strong muscle fibers. The brisket is split into two key sections: the flat and the point (more on that in a second).
The brisket is famous for its distinctly meaty flavor and incredible texture when cooked correctly. Once you cook down the collagen with low heat, all of that fat renders into the meat and creates a delectable meal.
What’s the difference between the flat and point cut of brisket?
The flat and the point are two cuts that butchers take from the brisket, and each has its own characteristics. You can either buy the whole brisket, which includes both the flat and point, or you can buy the cuts separately.
If the corned beef you buy just says brisket, then it’s likely the whole primal. If it says flat or point, then you’re getting one or the other. You can always ask the butcher if you aren’t sure.
Both the flat and point cut are delicious but have slightly different uses. Here’s how to use them:
Ideal for: Corned beef, cuts that look rectangular, and pastrami.
The flat cut is the part of the brisket that’s near the ribcage, and it’s known for its leanness and rectangular shape when cut. If you’ve ever been to a good BBQ shop, ordered a brisket, and gotten those perfectly rectangular cuts stacked on top of each other, then that’s the flat cut in action.
The flat cut is the preferred cut for corned beef, but the whole brisket is used often as well. If you are trying to make the perfect looking meal for corned beef, then make sure you pick up the flat. If you’re making hash or corned beef for reubens, then you can use either and have great results.
Ideal for: pot roasts, shredded beef, and meals that benefit from fattier meat.
The point cut (also known as the second cut or deckle) is named because it is shaped like a triangle. It’s the part of the brisket that is closer to the collar bone. The collar bone is less used, which makes it have less muscle and more fat than the flat cut.
If you want to shred your beef for any reason, then the point is your best choice. Some people argue that the fat makes the point cut more flavorful than the flat cut, but we think it comes down to how you use it!
BEST PRACTICES FOR CHOOSING THE BEST MEAT FOR CORNED BEEF
Okay, now that you know your options, let’s talk about quality. Here’s what to look for when picking out your brisket.
Buy a bit more meat than you think is necessary.
The golden rule is a half-pound per person, but corned beef shrinks a lot when you cook it down, so aim for closer to ¾ pounds per person.
Opt for grass-fed and finished brisket when possible.
Grass-fed and grass-finished corned beef or brisket taste better. It’s no surprise when you think about all of the junk they feed industrial cattle. When cows live healthier lives, their meat tastes better — and it’s better for you. It’s why the industrial meat you buy from major chains never feels as satisfying as buying from a local butcher or reputable producer. So whether you’re brining your own brisket or picking up a ready-to-cook corned beef brisket, start with the best.
Always use fresh brisket for corned beef.
Even if you buy a great brisket, if it’s been sitting in the freezer until it’s close to being expired, chances are it won’t taste as good. Buying and using meat well within their “best by” windows is the best way to ensure your meal comes out top-notch, and on a similar note, you should buy from meat producers who are constantly moving and rotating their products — that way you know that the meat you’re getting is fresh.
WHERE TO BUY THE BEST BRISKET FOR CORNED BEEF
The absolute best beef for your corned beef will come from farmers and producers who raise their cattle healthily and sustainably. Grass-raised and grass-finished is the best beef for your body, your taste buds, and the environment. It’s also a great way to support farmers who are fighting against the habits and practices of industrial meat.
OUR FAVORITE CORNED BEEF RECIPES
Now for the best part — cooking! Here are some of the best corned beef recipes we know of. Some walk you through the whole curing process, others are based on buying pre-brined corned beef.
1. Favorite Corned Beef and Cabbage
This recipe shows you exactly how to get that perfect St. Patrick’s Day meal with a pre-brined corned beef brisket. The brown sugar crust, the rich cabbage, the small potatoes — I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
2. Crispy Slow Cooker Corned Beef
This recipe is all about nailing that perfect corned beef crust and uses a slow cooker and optional broiler to get the job done. This approach is perfect for starting in the morning, going to work, and coming back to an amazing meal.
3. Corned Beef (Home Cure & Cook)
For the Chef Table lovers out there, this recipe is for you. This is a perfect breakdown of how to cure your own brisket, create an amazing spice blend, and wow your guests.
4. Corned Beef Hash
Corned beef hash is perfect to make from leftovers, but this hash is so good I wouldn’t blame you for making a whole brisket just to use in this hash. You can experiment here as well. Any fresh veggies you have or style of eggs you love make fine substitutes.
5. Reuben Sandwich with Russian Dressing
As a kid, I loved reuben sandwiches, and that has never changed — especially when it’s paired with a rich dressing and a crunchy pickle. Don’t skimp on getting good bread for this recipe, and enjoy what may be the best reuben you ever have.
The flat cut or whole brisket is the only way to play with corned beef. You can either brine it yourself or buy it pre-brined, but make sure you buy grass-fed and grass-finished beef for the absolute best results. Why go through all the trouble of making corned beef with meat that is subpar?
Get the absolute best, 100% grass-fed, sustainably raised, unbelievably rich, and perfect for corned beef U.S. Wellness Meats brisket delivered straight to your door.