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Jul 27, 2008 04:26 PM

Supermarket that sells good Corned Beef Brisket?

So, growing up in LA, we'd occasionally have corned beef and cabbage for dinner. The brands out there would come sealed with all sorts of seasonings, peppercorns, etc. in the bag, you'd plop it in hot water, cook for several hours, etc.

Here is a shot of what it *sort of* looked like (subtract the red peppers):

Well, since moving out here I've been looking for this. Most supermarkets either don't carry it at all, or have this poor imitation that really only uses salt for the curing. Hummel is one such brand.

So, who can recommend for me a place to get this moist, flavorful delight! :)

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  1. Traditional New England corned beef is made with gray corned beef and the Boston Brisket Company cures most of that. Johnnie's Supermarkets and McKinnon's meats carry it year around. Since it doesn't use sodium nitrite, this might be what you are referring to as "salt only" but its certainly not Hummel but they could make a New England style corned beef. Boston Brisket also offers pink corned beef, but you would have to call them to see about availability (they may sell direct as they ship or McKinnon's could probably order it for you). Pearl and Kayem (the latter is a larger producer) are local packers which have red corned beef (Pearl also does gray), of the two I would look for Pearl which I have seen in Stop and Shop. And there are local butchers which cure Irish boiling bacon (the traditional ingredient in an Irish boiled meal) and some Jewish corned beef options, but sounds like you are looking for an irish. There are also some reports of markets which cure their own corned beef mostly around St Pats, but ask questions to make sure its really "homemade." You can add your own spices (all spice, cloves, bay leaf) to the mixture too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: itaunas

      Yeah- all spice, cloves, bay leaf, etc. sound like what's been missing. So of all those options you listed, which do you think would have that type of seasoning pre-made? I'm not too familiar with the difference between red, pink, and gray corned beef. The ones I got are always just raw and you cook 'em!


      1. re: BigBrother

        The seasonings in the packet have been in the brine enough time they may not have as much of a flavor impact when you go to boil. So I would ask the butcher about the ingredients in the cure, rather than selecting on looks. You may want a 35% corned beef (as opposed to 20%) which I think refers to additions to the brine but I am not 100% certain. Pearl's corned beef is a 35% and I have seen them at S&S, but they sell much more cooked corned beef, so this time of year you might have to ask about availability at the meat department. You could also ask the deli counter to slice a bit of the cooked version before committing to a whole brisket flat.

        Boston Brisket to me is the more interesting option, although I have only had their gray corned beef and spareribs (which can be spiced, but their product usually comes packaged by the butcher w/o the spices not in the cryovac+brine package). Retail availability of the red could be difficult if they only sell case sizes. They have a number of different products with different spicing particularly for the red product. I would either talk to any of the McKinnon's butchers about what you want as I haven't had much luck with Johnnie's and special requests or you could call the company 617-442-8814 to ask about their products and retail availability.

        Gray and red/pink corned beef are differences in the curing process. The Gray is a local New England thing and uses salt instead of pink curing salt, requiring a longer cure and less practical for most larger producers. You are probably more used to the red/pink corned beef and it can certainly be good, but the gray is a local specialty. And the type of cure doesn't dictate what the spices are in the brine but to be sure ask some questions at the meat counter.

    2. BTW- I've found a happy solution in Freirich brand corned beef brisket, sold in Star/Shaws supermarkets. No floating spices :), but all in all a very close flavor. Thanks all!

      3 Replies
      1. re: BigBrother

        The Freirich brand corned beef brisket you like is available at BJ's for a few dollars a pound less than Shaw's or Stop and Shop.
        If you're local to Dorchester or South Boston, you can get grey corned beef brisket at the Dorchester Mkt at the corner or Dorchester Ave and East Cottage St and at the K St market in South Boston. That's on the corner of K and 8th st.
        Both stores cure their own brisket and it's very good.

          1. re: janzy

            I'll second K St. Market. Not necessarily a place I would have thought of until I saw a recco here. High quality and nicely lean.

        1. Whole Foods also has a good corned beef - I believe cured in-house. Definitely plenty of spices!