best cut for corned beef?
- Sweet Pea May 19, 2006 10:20 AM
I'm pregnant and unable to buy deli meats (it's a bacteria thing), but the thought of not eating a sandwich for another 6 mos. is killing me. I'd like to try making corned beef, but have no idea what cut of meet to buy. Will a brisket work? I'd like it fairly lean.
Any recipe suggestions are welcome as well.
Three cuts for corning beef:
1. Brisket: point end
2. Brisket: flat end
Round is very lean and tends to come out tough. I would not recommend it.
The flat end of brisket is leaner than the point, and not as flavorful, but not tough.
I'd personally go with the fattiest cut and rely on simmering to defat.
re: Karl S
I agree - these are really the three choices. I do, however, prefer the brisket flat. But definitely go with either brisket flat or point. since you said you like it a little leaner, I'd go with the flat.
Depending on what part of you country you live in, you may find it hard to find the brisket point. Brisket flats are everywhere.
How are you planning to cure it? Tenderquick?
For what it is worth, without too much more work, you can make pastrami as well... but that is another discussion if you are interested.
I understand about the deli meats at the counter, but buying a whole corned beef in a cryo-vac should still be an option if bacteria is the concern. Whether you make your own or buy one whole, you're still going to braise (preferred) or boil it to death - the inside will be over 175F. Of course, commercial products contain nitrates/nitrites which is a different problem.
Brisket is the traditional meat for corned beef, although you can really use almost anything - another good meat is top round, which would definitely be leaner. A flat cut from the brisket will be leaner than the point cut.
I use a water sealed crock and brine at room temperatures - 3-4 days depending on the size. It's safer to brine it in the fridge, but it takes longer, up to 3 weeks.
For the brine itself, I use pickling salt (uniodized salt, finely ground for easier dissolving), sugar (about 1/3 as much as the salt), then the aromatics - bay leaves, crushed mustard seed, and garlic and onion powders. Of course, you can try lots of other things - I used juniper berries once, but decided that made it too much like sauerbraten.
There is a whole different way to pickle meats that involves using whey - it avoids salt altogether, which may be of concern. You have to use real liquid whey, drained from yogurt or whole milk, not the powdered stuff, to get the benefits of the lactic acid. Sally Fallon has recipes for this in her book, Nourishing Traditions. I've never tried this, although I did try to make sauerkraut this way (her recipe) and it came out ok (but not great).
re: Becca Porter
In New England, nitrates are not traditionally used for corning beef, and we still can get the lovely grey corned beef in many of our markets. As Cooks Illustrated notes, it has a more rounded, beefier flavor and less processed texture; Cooks Illustrated also provides a corning recipe for it.
Corned beef is usually made from brisket that is cured/corned in water for several days before cooking. Brisket has a relatively large amount of fat per pound, but that will render out as you cook, the same way that stewing beef does. You can corn the brisket yourself, but its more work - I myself wouldn't bother.
The key to cooking brisket (and therefore corned beef) is to cook it for a long time (so the fat renders out and the meat becomes tender) at a relatively low temperature (so it doesn't get totally dried out - a common problem, especially for my in-laws). Last time I made corned beef I did it in the crock pot. I put an already corned beef that I bought from the supermarket straight into the crock pot solo, then added some onions (which you really don't need). I turned it on low and went to sleep and it was ready by midday the next day. I've also cooked one in a smoker (which was awesome, but you may not have a smoker). A third alternative would be to cook it in the oven for a long time at say about 200 or 225.
I was late to get started, but the corned beef thread just before St Patrick's Day got me in the mood for corned beef. To avoid the nitrites, I made the CI recipe referred to in that thread.
It tured out great! will do it again. And the meat is not grey, but brown, like a pot roast. Who came up with grey?... the preservative marketers!
Buy a point cut and do the dry rub for a week or two. Just keep flipping the bag so the flavors are well-distributed. No chemicals involved and GREAT tasting corned beef.
Cooked mine very slow in the oven and it was tender AND juicey, something I struggle with with moist-cooked corned beef.
Give it a go, no crock needed, it's very good!
Navel, from the plate makes the fattiest pastrami. Should also be excellent for corning. Need to find a butcher who cuts up sides, you won't likely find it in cryovac.