Flat cut, point cut, grey, red. Corned beef is more complicated than it seems, and in the Roche Bros. meat department, we know the differences and offer all the options.
Let’s start with the basics. “Corning” is another term for curing, one of the longest standing and most effective ways to preserve meat. When Irish-Americans first came to America, corned beef was made by covering the meat in a mixture of salt, which draws out moisture and reduces the pH, and peat, or potassium nitrate, which kills off any remaining bacteria. And today, the making of corned beef is very much the same.
New England Style Corned Beef is grey in color. It’s made from a cut of meat known as brisket, and there are two parts, flat cut and point cut. If you’re looking for a traditional St. Patrick’s Day corned beef, choose the flat cut, which is lean and uniform in size. The point cut is more tender but results in much less meat, with a 50/50 ratio of meat to fat. Point cut corned beef is great for smoking or shredding for sandwiches.
Either way, the meat starts out rather tough, which means it needs to be cooked slowly (that means for a few hours) at a low temperature, adding flavor and increasing tenderness. To reduce the salty flavor, soak your corned beef in a few changes of water over the course of a few hours before cooking. To make a traditional boiled dinner, cook your corned beef until it’s nice and tender, then cook your vegetables separately and combine.
If you’re craving the sort of red-hued corned beef sandwich you’d find in a New York-style deli, you’ll need New York Style-Red Corned Beef Brisket instead. This type of corned beef is cured with sodium nitrite, giving it that distinct red-pink color. Serve it on rye with yellow mustard and a dill pickle on the side!