The corned beef and cabbage dish is a favorite for St. Patrick’s Day in the United States, but it can be a tough cut of meat if you don’t prepare it correctly. The key to a tender, flavorful brisket is curing it in a brine solution. Brisket comes from the front muscles of a cow and contains a lot of connective tissue, so it requires slow cooking to become tender. The cured meat is served with carrots, baby potatoes, onions, and cabbage.
The flavor of corned beef brisket for sale is heavily influenced by its cured ingredients. This means that the meat will taste saltier than other cuts of beef and will also pick up the flavors of whatever spices were used in the curing process. This can be an advantage if you’re using the brisket in a recipe that calls for seasoned or pickled meat, but it may not work well if you’re trying to make a dish that showcases the natural qualities of the beef.
Purchasing a good-quality brisket can make all the difference in enjoying its flavors. Look for a flat cut labeled kosher, brined, and pickled with salt, black peppercorns, allspice berries, coriander seeds, and paprika. A brisket with these spices has an Old World flavor that is hard to replicate with other store-bought products.
Homemade corned beef is easy to make but requires a little planning. A brisket or round roast slowly cured with sugar and pickling spices is then cooked to tender, salty perfection. It can be served in boiled dinners with cabbage and potatoes or sandwiches with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut.
The meat you must purchase depends on how many people you will serve and whether any sides are included in the meal. Generally, you will need 1/2 to 3/4 pounds of cooked brisket per person. You can purchase a brisket from the supermarket or a local butcher. Most large warehouse stores also carry brisket. A brisket has two parts: the flat and the tip cut. You will need to buy the flat cut for corned beef because it tends to be leaner and firmer than the tip cut.
A flat brisket will cure in 5 days, while a thicker tip cut will take closer to 7. Rotating and agitating your brine is important to prevent the salt from sinking to the bottom. The seasoned brisket can be prepared in a slow cooker or by smoking it. Smoking the brisket until its internal temperature reaches 204 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for maximum tenderness and flavor.
The cut of brisket you select can greatly impact the flavor and texture of your corned beef. There are two main cuts of brisket: the flat cut and the point cut. The flat cut is leaner and has a more uniform thickness. The flat cut also has a fat cap that renders during the cooking process, helping to keep the meat moist and adding flavor.
The point cut, on the other hand, has more fat and connective tissue than the flat cut. This makes it ideal for pot roasts and dishes that benefit from fatty meat. The point cut also has a more intense beefy flavor. Both cuts are good for corned beef, but the flat cut is better if you make a large meal or want to serve the meat on sandwiches. It’s also easier to slice.
Look for grass-fed beef from a local butcher or reputable producer. The taste of a grass-fed brisket is unparalleled by any industrial corned beef you’ll find at major grocery chains.
The curing process can change the flavor of the meat. Typically, the brine contains salt and spices like juniper berries to give the beef its signature color and unique flavor. The most common method for cooking corned beef is to simmer it in liquid, but you can also bake or smoke it. A food thermometer is the best way to know if your corned beef is ready for the table. The temperature should read 165 degrees, which is the level of doneness that indicates the brisket is tender.
When selecting your brisket, consider whether you need it for the whole meal or to make sandwiches and hash. A brisket can shrink significantly during cooking, so pick one slightly larger than you need.
While many recipes call for the brisket to be cooked until it is “fall-apart” or fork tender, this is often too long and results in overcooked beef that borders on mush. Kreiger recommends using a quick-read meat thermometer to ensure your beef is cooked to the right temperature. He also suggests buying a locally sourced brisket from a butcher or deli that carries high-quality beef rather than going with a national chain. The grass-fed, pasture-raised cows that local producers use to produce meat with a more robust, richer flavor than the industrial animals fed by big chains.