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Jan 2, 2014 09:50 PM

Corned Beef - alternate cuts of beef?

So I have been cooking corned beef for ages. I've always bought two briskets for every point cut - all pre-brined - and cut it all into big chunks, and browned it all on all sides. I use good pickling spices and a little sugar and some Guinness. cook it down until it's falling apart, and hand shred it, removing most of the 'extra' fat between the meat shreds.

The only complaint I ever get comes from people expecting sliced corned beef on their Reuben, and I've never gotten that complaint AFTER someone has tried mine. I sound exceptionally arrogant, I just realized, but mostly I just mean that if you pour a good bit of time into corned beef, the end result is phenomenal. I have had even BETTER results since I started brining my own beef.

Even doing that, though, it's still 'wasteful' and pretty time consuming, especially that hand shredding bit. I've been toying with the idea of getting lean cuts of meat - think round - and brining that, probably with fat strips. Is this doable without sacrificing the quality I require? Will the fat leech its flavor out into the boil well enough? Do I need to brine the fat, or just boil it with the brined meat?

Any corned beef folks ever tried to use something else? I've also considered using a fatty roast... I dunno, it'd just be nice to further reduce the workload required to make lots of awesome corned beef. I'd very much appreciate any pointers =)

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  1. You can brine any beef cut...but it doesn't mean you should. Round and Rump are brined and used for Delicatessen meats, but they are dry, and even thinly sliced. not very good for taste.

    Two beef cut that could make exceptional Corned Beef are the Fat Cap/Deckle, which is an extension from the Point if not mistaken...and the Navel Plate....which is used mostly to make Pastrami.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder

      Boy did you hit it on the head. I really dislike corned beef from round or rump roast. Sure it's go the right seasonings but the texture is off for me. I want looser fattier meats for corned beef. Spinalis dorsi would make an awesome corned beef.

    2. D'oh! Fourunder beat me to it, and his recommendations are fine, but those cuts may be difficult to find, which is why everyone uses brisket these days. It isn't the fat so much as it is the collagen, which melts and gives that great texture. Round and rump lack this essential element and are mostly horrible for this use; they could be used very rare for French Dip if shaved very thinly, I suppose, but that's about it.

      I suppose you could try a chuck roast and brine it and braise it until it falls apart and see what happens.

      5 Replies
      1. re: acgold7

        We used the brine our own Deckles at the Country Club for Corned Beef and Pastrami used during the Reception Hour. The deckles were removed from the Boneless Prime Rib Roasts served for parties. The Deckles were removed so the Eyes could fit on the plate easier with the other side items when served by staff during Russian/French Service at the tables....and make a better visual presentation.

        1. re: fourunder

          It would make me very sad to get a piece of prime rib without this outer deckle.

          But this deckle would be different than the deckle used for pastrami, right? From a completely different part of the steer? Because the navel is at the totally different side of the beast.

          1. re: acgold7

            The navel is the belly in front of the flank(?). The Deckle was from the Fat have not lived until you have had pastrami and corned beef made from the Fat Cap, Forequarter

            1. re: fourunder

              Right, but you mentioned above that the Deckle was also an extension of the point, which is a part of the brisket, which is basically the breast, from the lower front of the steer, quite opposite from where the fat cap of the Rib Roast is along the spine....

              But I can totally imagine how great one would be when made from the Prime Rib Fat Cap...

              I need to spend a day watching a whole side taken apart...

              1. re: acgold7

                My understanding is that it is the same, similar continuous muscle that wraps around.from top to bottom. There was a good explanation on it on which I tried to reference for you, but it appears the site was taken over by another. Thomas Keller explained it and how it's one of his preferred cuts to use in his restaurants. It may have been how both muscles are uses to attach to the animal, and deckle is a common term...Here are some other links for those who do not know what er are talking about.


                Spinalis dorsi....Fat Cap, Deckle

                Suprspinatus....Mock Tender, Chuck Tender, Brisket Point, Chuck Fillet, Scotch Tender

                They say that the Deckle really is not the same as the Brisket Point

                *The whole brisket you'll buy for barbecue is what the IMPS calls "beef brisket, deckle-off, boneless." The IMPS defines it as follows: "All bones and cartilage shall be removed. *The deckle (hard fat and intercostal meat on the inside surface) shall be removed at the natural seam exposing the lean surface of the deep pectoral muscle. The inside lean surface shall be trimmed practically free of fat." The word "intercostal" refers to meat between the rib bones.*

                *Contrary to popular belief, the deckle is not the same thing as the brisket point. Rather, it's the fat and muscle that attach the brisket flat to the rib cage.*


      2. btw...i applaud you for trying to make a better Corned Beef, but along with trying a different cut, consider using different methods as well. The taste and textures will be different and you may find you like a different method of preparing better.

        1. Local butcher uses round and rump

          I buy them for cold sandwiches

          No fat is used, don't think your "fat " idea will work

          1. Don't bother with round. It does not make good home corned beef. Too lean, not enough collagen (you need not just fat but collagen).

            Round is what is used for lean pastrami, which is pastrami that should be eaten cold, because it just gets rubbery warmed. Lean pastrami is not generally desirable for pastrami mavens; navel (plate), deckle and brisket are far superior. Same goes for corned beef. Why "lean pastrami" became associated with quality is way beyond me; it's a negative correlation.

            Mind you, I love eye round for a VERY slow roast to rare, done Cooks Illustrated style, and sliced thinly. The way steamship rounds are done. But not for corning/curing.