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Feb 8, 2007 08:52 AM

Corned Beef Question

To me, corned beef is a brisket, but cold cut corned beef from the supermarkt always seems to be similar to the standard roast beef, except of course for the flavor. The grain structure seems like it would be impossible for it to be brisket. My assumption has always been that the roast beef cold cuts are from something like the rump though. So, grocery store deli corned beef... is it a brisket?... and what is the standard cut for deli roast beef? Remember, I'm asking about the stuff in the grocery store, like boar's head, not what you get at your deli down the street in NY. You'll just make me jealous and dislike you.

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  1. The corned beef I buy at the deli (in middle of nowhere TX, not exactly prime corned beef country) is brisket, definitely.

    But I suspect you're getting something that's had that added "liquid" stuff that makes cold cuts "juicier" - the mystery solution that plumps up the meat probably does something funky to the grain - if it was brisket to start with.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shanagain

      That's probably true, but what I was referring to was the size. You couldn't cut a piece of brisket against the grain and get the surface area you can with some of the "corned beef" (including boar's head) in the supermarket.

    2. I have not seen it with corned beef but with pastramis you can have a shoulder pastrami (I have seen it called pepper beef as well) is a shoulder roast - I do not see why they could not use that cut and prepare it like they do a corned beef -

      But to me true deli style corned beef is made from a brisket and brisket only -

      1 Reply
      1. re: weinstein5

        I've gotten corned beef round from markets and I do like that for a sandwich meat: I cook it very gently until it's done then weight it down and chill it overnight. This gives a very tight-grained meat that's really good sliced thin. I would not doubt that the meat factories might use rump or shoulder, and brine it then steam-roast it and press it. Industrial-grade processes like that could explain both the odd "synthetic" grain of the meat and its very un-homelike flavor.

      2. One home preparation technique I've heard about is refrigerating the cooked brisket overnight with a weighted down plate on top of it to squeeze out some of the moisture. This compacts the grain and makes it easier to slice thinner.

        If serving warm, it's necessary to add some moisture when heating, i.e., steam, to keep it from getting dried out and leathery.

        Perhaps there is some comparable commercial preparation technique.

        1. I think the big commercial processors usually use bottom round. It's cheap, plentiful, and the ratio of waste to final product is pretty low. It's also typically horrible.

          You can corn anything you want, but when I think of corned beef, I think of brisket.

          1. The most common cheap corned beef at the supermarket deli counter is made from the round; it's very lean. And sometimes crappy. The more expensive type is fattier and made from brisket. And better.

            Pastrami can be made from brisket, navel (plate) or round. The last is the most lean and crappiest. The brisket ranges in leanness depending on cut. The navel is the fattiest and best.