HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Corned Beef Cuts - Is There a Difference?

Since we're coming up on St. Patrick's Day, the SO has requested a traditional corned beef dinner. I'm finding a point piece and a blunt or square piece to choose from in the market. Does it make a difference in which I choose? I'll be cooking it low and slow in the oven.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I prefer the flat cut which sounds like the square piece. It cuts in a more uniform slice.

    1. Makes sense, and we want some leftovers for hash the following day, so uniform cuts are good. Thanks!

      1. Corned beef is made from brisket, hence it's brined then slow cooked but any cut that can be slow cooked will be just as good

        1. We only buy the point cut. More marbling, better texture.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I was under the impression that the flat cut was the wider end of the point cut. No?

            1. re: CindyJ

              This shows a whole brisket, point cut, and flat.

              As you can see, the flat cut is the wider end of the whole brisket, after cutting off the point.

          2. I was at Falletti's yesterday (SF) and they had Niman Beef...."Corned Beef Round" not brisket..on sale (I think it was $3.69 a lb.)
            The website (Nimans) says it is seasonal...
            is anyone familiar with this cut of meat (round) for corned beef???

            5 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Then the point cut is the only way to go!
                Thanks for clearing that one up...I looked at it and was a little nonplussed!

                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  Point cut only! Just cook it longer and trim it better. Much more marbling.

                  1. re: Wizzapizza

                    Yes indeed...the "Flavor is in the Fat"!!

                    1. re: Wizzapizza

                      I'm seeing the grocery store ads promoting flat cut corned beef as superior. Feh! We will have our post-St. Patrick's Day scavenger hunt scooping up half-priced point cut on Sunday.

              2. You'd probably have to corn it yourself, but navel, from the plate makes better pastrami than brisket, so the same likely goes for corned beef.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rexmo

                  Have you seen any corned beef for sale with that "appelation" (navel) if so...where?

                  1. re: ChowFun_derek

                    I haven't, have only heard of pastrami made from navel being sold. I have requested it at a good butcher shop and dry cured for pastrami, haven't brined for corned beef. An old cookbook I remember looking at, titled something like better than store bought, suggested a cut called flanken for pastrami. Haven't ever seen it for sale either.

                2. The point is the best cut in terms of flavor. Cuz it has more fat, of course. Flat is a compromise, but it is neater. Round is right out, unless you want Montreal style smoked meat.

                  As for pastrami, navel from the plate is likewise best; lean pastrami is often a very sad thing indeed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Karl S

                    We get the flat because DH has a strong aversion to lots of visible fat. I prefer it the flat for the same reason.

                  2. I go for the flat, because I gorge myself on corned beef once a year, and if it's point cut, it's just way too fatty for gorging. I got a flat cut that is just over 2 pounds so we can eat the whole thing in one sitting!

                    1. I do corned beef and cabbage probably 6 or more times a year, and always use the flat cut. I prefer lean meat, and especially when I am making Ruebens as leftovers I want the leanest, thinest cut of corned beef I can produce.

                      1. If you want delicous flavor and texture, choose the point cut. If you want lower fat and are willing to sacrifice flavor and texture, choose the flat cut. Or live dangerously and get both so you can find out for yourself!

                        1. OK well I posted about my preference for a flat cut earlier. When I was at the store, I was looking at the various cuts after reading the posts and got a round cut. Actually the grocery store butcher was there and he said it was lean. Well I guess I got confused and I bought two of them. Now I don't think I'm up for a point cut because of all the fat but is the round cut going to be utterly tasteless? Would it help to cook it longer? Do I need to go get me at least one flat cut to compare? I only have 5 adults eating the corned beef and I have two of them already--can't get the kids to get near it. Whaddya think?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                            I would not cook the round longer. COoking longer is only good for cuts with lots of collagen like chuck, brisket and plate. Round is the leanest cut of all, without much collagen. It needs to be cut very thin (which makes it well suited for things like Reuben sandwiches) against the grain in order not to feel tough.

                            1. re: Karl S

                              The other problem with round is that the beef cut itself doesn't have much flavor. Plain ol' brisket is much more beefy and deeper in taste than uncured round steak/roast even.

                          2. From Wikipedia:

                            Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest. While all meat animals have a brisket, the term is most often used to describe beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the eight beef primal cuts. According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, the term derives from the Middle English "brusket" which comes from the earlier Old Norse "brjōsk", meaning cartilage. The cut overlies the sternum, ribs and connecting costal cartilages.

                            Cows lie on this enlarged part of the sternum which carries about 60% of the body weight.

                            In the U.S., the whole brisket has the meat-cutting classification NAMP 120. The brisket is made up of two separate muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor), which are sometimes separated for retail cutting: the lean "first cut" or "flat cut" is NAMP 120A, while the fattier "second cut", "point", "deckel", "fat end", or "triangular cut" is NAMP 120B.

                            1. Bumping for St Pats

                              I have always gone with the - Cheaper fattier cut is better - isn't that the point of this type of preparation anyway

                              curious to do a side by side though

                              1. Point cut is fattier, and my preference. I do the low and slow in the oven, too.