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Corned Beef Test Results.....Slow Baked and a Braise, For St. Paddy's Day.

It's that time a year again, St Paddy's Day is near and Corned Beef is cheap and plentiful in the markets, so I decided to purchase two pieces and see if a slow braise in a slow cooker ...or slow roasted in an oven would produce a better result. Both pieces of meat were approximately 4 pounds each.

Braised in a slow cooker for 7 hours on the low setting, the corned beef reached 195 degrees and was fork tender.

Baked low and slow in the oven for 7.5 hours @ 200*...the corned beef reached 170*.

The Final Results and Thoughts:

If you like your Corned Beef softer, braising is the way to go. The oven baked corned beef had a firmer texture and a little chew, but nevertheless, it was still very enjoyable. the oven baked CB was also saltier....in the future, I would probably soak in water and change the water at least a couple of times to remove some of the salt/brine, similar to the process for Salt Cod. One noticeable difference where the baked version is remarkably better is if you like to slice your meat super thin, the baked version will not fall apart at all. My next test for bake, I intend to increase the internal temperature up to at least 185*, to see if it becomes more tender and less chew.

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  1. great experiment, fourunder. thank you for sharing your results. they both look quite good!

    i find that once the brisket has cooled, the braised one may also be sliced thin. my problem is that i love to eat it warm! so, i have larger slices while it is warm, then once it cools, i can slice it thin for my beloved reuben sandwiches.

    6 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      Thanks alkapal for the kind words.

      I agree that cooling is best for slicing . The two middle pictures are the braised CB sliced after about 35 minutes covered. The edges of the meat frayed a little when sliced warm....but the leftovers cooled overnight had no such problem.....I'm with you on the Reubens too. Two questions.

      1. Open Faced or Closed

      2. Swiss Cheese or other

        1. re: fourunder

          i think i prefer regular grilled reubens over open-face because that method holds in all the "stuff"! i often end up eating it with a knife and fork anyway.

          i used swiss yesterday (shredded, by the way -- as an experiment), but i was ready to use some havarti. of course, the best is using gruyere.

          this may be heresy to some, but my sister did this and she had great reubens: use liquid parkay or country crock to smear on the outside for grilling. it makes it really rich -- maybe too rich, but it tastes good!

          gotta have the dill pickles, too. yesterday i sliced a whole boar's head dill pickle in very thin slices to lay onto the sandwich. yeah, buddy!

          1. re: alkapal

            We made our reubens last night, too. Closed, filled to the brim, cooked in butter in a large cast iron skillet. Used Baby Swiss, sauerkraut, creole mustard and a touch of French (red) dressing. Served with kosher pickles and pickled beets. We might like this better than the brisket and cabbage meal!

            1. re: bayoucook

              oh absolutely it is better than the brisket and cabbage meal, no doubt. in fact, the only reason to cook brisket is for reubens, to be honest.

              you are right -- creole mustard is the best - or another good strong, coarse mustard.

              i just wish that i could find a great mass market seeded rye with a real rye flavor. alas, i had to use "arnold's."

              1. re: alkapal

                Whether it is still made I don't know, but 5+ years ago I used to get an Arnold rye labeled something like "extra sour" when my supermarket had it, which was rarely. It was very close to the Jewish bakery ryes I grew up with on Long Island, except of course no crisp crust. Nowadays I buy Arnold's "everything" rye when I see it.

      1. Try this one time. My mother made it this way for years and now I make it for my husband and kids and everyone loves it...

        Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Lay the corned beef on a large sheet of foil. Mix up some dijon mustard and brown sugar and put the glaze over the corned beef. Wrap up in foil (pretty tightly) and bake on 300 or 325 for 1 1/2 hours.

        It will be tender, but not falling apart and the salt will be gone. It's delicious.

        2 Replies
        1. re: valerie

          I seem to recall this recipe before....:0)


          I will most certainly give it a try in the future and report back. Thank you.

          1. re: valerie

            Thanks for your contribution, valerie. I had never had a boiled dinner, as the idea of boiled meat did not appeal to me, and so many people comment about the unpleasant smell as the meal simmers. Your idea sounded better - I got a small corned brisket, less than 2.5 #. It was labeled as lower sodium so I did not soak it before simmering. I added already-sweated onions to the glaze. I was not sure if you put the glaze only on top, so I did it on all sides. This was a mistake since, probably because I cranked the heat to 425F
            the last 10 min, the underside came out like burnt ends (tasty but tough). I put the wrapped brisket onto a sheet pan which also contained oiled, peppered chunks of carrot, potato, and shallot. Hence the high heat at the end, for browning the vegetables. I steamed torn-up cabbage leaves.
            After removing the meat and vegetables from the pan, I "deglazed" the brown fond that remained on the pan and on the inside of the foil by covering them with the cooked cabbage and turning with a rubber spatula. This was a truly superb feast, without stinky smells. I will definitely do it again; wish I had gotten a bigger piece of meat!.

          2. i braised mine in water and the enclosed spice packet for about 3 hours in the slow cooker. once it got to a boil, i immediately reduced the heat to keep it on a low simmer the whole way -- per the package instructions.-- adding in some cabbage and potatoes for the last 45 minutes. i could've cooked the veggies half an hour only.

            the beef was tender, but not mushy. today, reubens!

            1. I experimented with every method for cooking corned beef from boiling, steaming, baking, to the crock pot. My preferred method has become oven braising with beer ( http://recipesrandycooks.com/2011/03/... ). Although I am intrigued by the idea of the boil then braise method I can't bring myself to smear it with brown sugar like a ham! I will report back if I end up cooking another corned beef this week. Thanks for the post!

              1 Reply
              1. re: LiveRock

                I'm a fan of the boil then braise method myself, though I don't add any kind of glaze (though I have had it, and it's good!). I boil and skim, then into the oven for about 4 hrs in total. The veg goes in at T-40 (carrots, potatoes) and cabbage in at T-20. I put the onions in at the beginning. And if I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I'll even take the lid off so the top can get a little crust. Depends where I'm cooking and how stressed I am. Happy cooking!

              2. My current favorite method is the pressure cooker. Add corned beef (point cut is my choice), a bottle of stout or other dark beer, pickling spices, and water. Pressure cook for about 40 minutes for 3 lbs. While meat rests, pressure cook potatoes and carrots in remaining cooking liquid for 10 minutes.

                Texture and flavor using this method beats simmering or oven braised hands down! Added bonus: it's faster.

                3 Replies
                1. re: bdegregory

                  We pressure cooked the corned beef which 5 -1/2 lbs. for 1 hr. 45 minutes with a natural cool down. It was fork tender.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Somewhat stringy on the end where the meat wasn't as thick. We took this 'string' and cut it into small pieces. This morning I used the cut-up pieces when I added it to left-over mashed potatoes and fried in butter to make potato pancakes. Surely tasted good.

                2. This is great, informative and of course timely!

                  1. Can you elaborate a little re: the slow-cooker method? How much liquid did you add along with the beef? Over the years I've always just boiled mine with excellent results, but am always up for trying new methods.

                    2 Replies
                    1. Thanks fourunder.
                      When you say you "baked it," do you mean out in the open on a rack and cookie sheet, or do you mean tightly covered somehow? (great photos, too)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: VTB

                        Correct, open dry roasted, on cookie sheet or similar sheet pan, with a shallow lip. For a large CB, i.e., 10+ pounds, I would suggest a higher lip to catch the rendered fat, just in case for safer removal from the oven.

                      2. I cook a corned beef maybe three or four times a year. I almost always do a flat by braising it with the little spice packet to which I add some additional mustard seed, juniper berries and a dried chipotle or two.

                        Last weekend, (in honor of St Pat's), I did a point and did a slow bake, wrapped in heavy duty foil. I also did a heavy rub of white and black peppercorns. We had corned beef sandwiches last night, (St Pat's Day).

                        It was pretty good.

                        1. why do people prefer points vs. the other cut?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: alkapal

                            I prefer the point for hash....Bought three yesterday for future use...
                            For "regular'" corned beef I prefer the flat cut. ...Not quite as fat as the point. ~~ Other than that..???
                            Oh! sometimes the points are less expensive....

                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                              yes, i intend to stock up, too, because $3 per pound is a lot cheaper than the deli -- AND i control the seasonings. this one i just made was low sodium, and it was perfect!

                            2. re: alkapal

                              "Point cut" has a lot more fat, thus is cheaper. "Flat cut' is leaner & thus more expensive. The extra fat in the point cut does, in my opinion, make it more flavorful, but the flat cut is nicer if you plan to use the brunt of it for sandwiches later on.

                            3. I also did the test, two in the oven, one on top of the stove in water, darn it, I forgot to do the beer thang!! My results were the same as above. The 2 in the oven were saltier, but sure did slice better warm, one was a point, the other a flat. The flat in the liquid was wonderful too, but then it always is. Thanks fourunder for the pics and detailed report.
                              Next project is to do one on the Kamado Cooker, low and slow with pastrami seasoning. Will report back with results when we do it.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Nanzi

                                My mom, age 83, and still incredible in the kitchen likes to simmer until almost tender. Then spreads a brown sugar / Dijon glaze on top. Goes in the oven for about 45 mins. It is non-traditional, but superb! Never dry. BTW, F'under, you mentioned the CB is plentiful and cheap this time of year. We're both in NJ. Boar's Head flat at $5.99. Frierich and Nathan's at $3.99. That's some steep numbers. I opted for a Shop Rite brand (Reddi Gourmet?) flat that worked out fine. Plentiful, yeah. Cheap, no.

                                1. re: chefdaddyo

                                  I do mine that way too. Braise until very tender, then top with creole mustard and brown sugar and bake for about 30 minutes. Always delicious.

                                  1. re: chefdaddyo

                                    See my post above...I make it the same way. Traditional or not, always a hit!

                                    1. re: chefdaddyo

                                      I opted for a Shop Rite brand (Reddi Gourmet?) flat that worked out fine. Plentiful, yeah. Cheap, no.

                                      I do most of my shopping at the Paramus ShopRite store, where both pieces of meat were purchased for $1.88/b, flat cut. The Reddi Gourmet brand is in the first three pictures used for the braise. O'Brians brand was used for the oven method. You can pay more per pound for CB, but that doesn't necessarily make it any better. My experience is it does not. Most often, there is just less fat by being trimmed more. Obviously there are more expensive options available, but at the time of this posting, most large supermarkets similar to ShopRite has a similar promotion for under 2 bucks per pound,for flat cuts which I would consider ....cheap. As you indicated....the cheaper options work out fine.

                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        Picked up 2 Vienna Beef brand flat cut briskets in the Chicago NW 'burbs last weekend and they were about $10.50 each, both were roughly 2.4-2.5 lbs. Not the cheapest but worth it for sure. Last year did a CB from Wegman's (at our VA house) and there was a noticeable difference...the Vienna Beef brand was fantastic. Granted, I added spices and boiled/simmered 2+ hrs on the stove and braised 3+ hrs in the oven at 275.

                                      2. re: chefdaddyo

                                        fourunder, thanks for reigniting this thread and for offering your results!

                                        chefdaddyo, my mom always made corned beef like this and it was one of the few meats she cooked that i liked. all her meats were well done, so most were served dry, tough and flavorless. but since this was sooooo very fatty it never got that way. and that mustard on top was killah good.

                                        1. re: chefdaddyo

                                          I like to soak mine for at least one day, then I reseason it with my own spice mix which tends to be a little spicier than the packages, and rest for 2 more days in the rub. Then I braise in a low oven. I'm not a fan of the texture of the thin layer of fat on top, so I also brush it with a glaze of dijon mustard, brown sugar and a little cider vinegar and broil until crisped.

                                          Mine for this year is soaking now since I was under the weather the end of last week, so I might try the simmer-then-braise uncovered method this time.

                                      3. now y'all don't run me outta here, BUT...

                                        would there be a way to use a slow braise to head-fake a brisket into "pastrami?" using herbs, spices and <aaaaiiiiieeeee> liquid sm*ke?

                                        <yeah, i know what pastrami is...>

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          OH Yes! There are several recipe sites for turning corned beef into "ultra Fast" pastrami. I have tried them both. Go to ABOUT.Com. search for pastrami recipe, you will see a chef turn a store bought corned beef into Pastrami in the oven. Then on a BBQ site you will see recipes to use a smoker to do it. - I will try to post links to both.

                                          As you will discover the brine used in almost all store corned beef is exactly the same as the brine called for in almost all Pastrami recipes, WITHOUT the 3 day to 6day brining process.

                                          Oven- take a store bought corned beef, throw away the spice packet, soak it for a couple hours changing the water 1X. Rub it with a combination of , 3 TBS cracked black pepper, 3TBS ground/cracked coriander, 1 TSP red pepper flakes, 1 TBS SMOKED Papricka.

                                          wrap it 5 X in tight foil, yes 5. you are steaming it.. after 5 hrs it should be tender. if you like a firm spice layer put it unwrapped under the broiler for a few min. VERY hard to wait but it is better and easier to slice next day. We never wait.. LOL

                                          Smoker-- same prep and rub as above - drop the smoked paprika, I just do 1/2tsp. - Smoke at 250 +/- 3 -4 hrs check for tenderness. DO NOT use Brisket time. The brineing process makes it a lot more tender and much less time than a brisket.

                                          Oven method is super easy, meat is more traditional. More juice and fat retention
                                          Smoker method is super tasty but you lose a lot of weight, Really shrinks, fat renders down for flavor but you wont feed as many people, get 2 we do, lol

                                          Seriously there is so much shrinkage either way, it is so delicious you cant keep your hands off, IT IS just as easy to do 2.

                                          1. re: seagulls1

                                            bless you seagulls!!! i don't have a smoker ;-( but do have an oven! 5 hours at what temp? 300? 250?

                                        2. Shame on me...I guess I'm showing my age, as I forgot I started this thread last year.

                                          Here are my 2012 tests....
                                          Corned Beef in the oven @ 215* for 8 hours....Very Tender

                                          Years ago, while attending a restaurant trade show, I had the most amazing Corned Beef that was low temperature roasted for 12 hours. It was a whole packer brisket with point attached and possibly the best Corned Beef I have ever had. I have tried a few occasions to try and duplicate the results, however, I apparently never allowed enough time for the meat to roast to the appropriate target temperature to reach tender goodness. Usually my attempts were always made with flat cuts, which I do not prefer in general, but was the meat used for my tests because that was the cut available to me at this time of year at my local supermarket which coincides with the St Patrick's Day holiday. The cut is usually on sale for less than 2 bucks, so it's the option I use without having to test on a whole packer brisket...

                                          In the past, I have found the meat must be soaked in water to remove some of the salt, otherwise it is too salty. for this test, i soaked for 24 hours, but I still found it to be too salty.....but the tenderness results were incredible... nary a hint of chew, but without it falling apart and very easy to make thin slices. The texture is not quite the same as steamed or boiled, i.e., slightly dry and stringy...but instead, still moist and soft with the texture of cold cut ham. I'm going to give this another shot or two by changing the water more frequently for 24 hours....and also for 48 hours as well to see which duration is best for my palate and post the results. Until then, please have a look at the picture provided and see the results from last night's test. Nice pink color and pay attention the the fat melting down the face of the roast.

                                          BTW...the picture was taken after the first few slices and after allowing the beef to rest for 30 minutes. The pre-cooked weight was 4 pounds and 4 ounces. It was simply roasted on a grill grate over a sheet pan.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Thanks so much for all your efforts on this post, fourunder. I'm not sure which way I'm going to go with this since I might not have time to soak it long enough (I still haven't bought the corned beef). This is great for future reference, though. I tend to get bored with a simple stove-top beef.

                                            1. re: bear

                                              Thanks for the kind words......I found that if baking, 24 plus hours is needed to remove excess salt from the meat. Overnight only was still a tad too salty for me....36 hours was fine. For tomorrow, I plan to do two flats I purchased...approximately 5 pounds each. One will be completely finished simmered in water and the other will start out in the same water, but finished in the oven as per (Valerie's) family recipe. My only deviation from her method will be a compromise in time and oven temperature. i will simmer for 2-2.5 hours before placing in a 250* oven.

                                              For the record, I have never found a completely braised corned beef to be too salty.....even without presoaking.

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                Thanks again, four. I just bought my dinner ingredients. I just rechecked Valerie's post, and that sounds like the perfect way to go. I think the first braise will be in a bit of beer for 1 hr or a bit more, and then the glaze, cover and bake.

                                                I actually picked up two small Boar's Head corned beefs (that's all the market had left), so maybe I'll go all the way with the braise on one and do the hybrid on the other to compare.

                                                I do remember the only other time I used Boar's Head, the spice packet that came with it was overwhelmingly strong, so I'll use it very sparingly if at all.

                                          2. fourunder..............love your photos. I'll post our dinner was early dinner yesterday, dinner was so good, love the meal. our supermarket only let you buy one though at a time for fear of running out like they did last year. think I'll go now and grab one for a month from now if they have any left.
                                            our dinner was corned beef, cooked in the pressure cooker for 13/4 hours, then I took it out and did the potatoes and cabbage and carrots in the liquid in the pressure cooker for 4 minutes, then I took them out, washed the pressure cooker and did the apples in there: 7 apples, cored and sliced, peel on like Cracker Barrel, brown sugar, butter, white sugar, caramel popcorn glaze, cinnamon, pumpkin pie/apple pie spice, flour and salt. < when the sauce started to thicken, I put the lid on and pressured it for 5 minutes. very creamy soft supple apples. horseradish sour cream dipping sauce, Irish soda bread with butter and gravy for over the meat from the reduced liquid.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                              iL Divo,

                                              Thank you ....and very nice results yourself.....I've always been curious about pressure cooking, but too afraid to try. The picture of your table looks great.

                                              Here are my 2012 St Paddy's Day tests with pictures...


                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                Some more pictures....

                                                The first two are braised for 3.5 hours.

                                                Pictures two-five are braised for 2.5 hours, then baked at 250* for an hour.

                                                Pictures six-10 are the baked CB, cap portion removed, only one inch thick cut with a paring knife.

                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  Some more pictures...all meat rested for 30 minutes

                                                  0ne & Two are braised only for 3.5 hours

                                                  Three-Six are braised for 2.5 hours, then into the oven at 250* for one hour

                                                  Seven-Ten are braised and baked, top cap portion, which was only one inch thick and cut with the paring knife shown(9 & 10). The meat slice was less than an 1/8th of an inch thickness.....it was very easy to slice without tearing.

                                              2. I did the braised/baked method tonight for dinner - DELICIOUS! I will never boil it again!

                                                I soaked the corned beef for 24 hours, changing the water every 3 hours. I then braised it in a mixture of beer (all I had was hefeweizen) and water with a small spoonful of beef base and pickling spice. I braised it for 4 hours on 325, drained the liquid (saved for boiling carrots and potatoes) and baked for another 2 hours. It was crispy on the outside and it fell apart when I cut it...for me, it was the best of both worlds.

                                                Thank you so much for this alternative!!

                                                1. No one mentioned steaming, which is my favorite way. Preserves the texture.

                                                  Also, $8/pd for choice flat in Los Angeles.

                                                  1. Well, my experiment will have to wait for another time. We had a full weekend of furniture shopping so I pulled out the crock pot. I put a couple of beers and a little water over the two small briskets at 9 a.m. and put the heat at auto. When we got back about 6 p.m., the meat was still tough. The internal temp was only about 140. I turned the heat to high and cooked for another four hours. When I checked the internal temp, it was about 200. I was concerned that it would be overcooked and mealy, but after resting for a day in the braising liquid, it was perfect the next day. It made a great dinner with some colcannon and roasted carrots.

                                                    We still have a few leftovers and that makes me really happy.

                                                    1. Thank you for your Test results. Braising in the oven is a wonderful way to do Corned Beef, Might I suggest, to counteract the salty taste, I add Apple juice as my liquid, just to cover the carrots which I add at the beginning of my cooking, I use a cast iron dutch oven and add just enough apple juice to help with steam production, I cook at 250 for 6 hours, or 185 for 8 hours (depending on the time I put it in the oven). It always comes out juicy and fork tender with an amazing flavor.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Bitobar

                                                        apple juice....nice tip. I'll give it a try...thanks.