Brisket is the name of a particular “cut” of beef, which tells you what part of the cow it came from. Corned Beef is is a cut of meat (brisket) that has been cured (or pickled) in a seasoned brine. For this recipe you will need to purchase a corned beef brisket.
Cow Drawing Source: Wikipedia
You may also be thinking: “That’s way too much meat for me to cook at once.” But cooking large pieces of meat or a whole chicken can, in the long run, be a huge time saver. Leftovers can be used for tomorrow’s dinner, or you can freeze them for future use.
Flat Cut Brisket
Corned beef brisket, (also known as salt beef if you live in the UK) is great when served with potatoes and your favorite vegetable. (Some people cook everything in the same pot. The beef cooking water gets really fatty and I think it’s better to cook the potatoes and vegetables separtely.) Be sure to buy some rye bread as well, because the leftovers make GREAT sandwiches.
This recipe is REALLY simple. All you need to do to cook a corned beef brisket are three things:
- Put the corned beef brisket in a large pot
- Cover it with water
- Bring it to a boil then simmer for 3-5 hours
When buying a brisket you can choose between a point cut and a flat (or plank) cut.
The point cut is a rounder, thicker cut with more fat on it then the flat cut.
This photo of the leaner flat cut shows off the grain of the meat beautifully. This is really important when it comes time to cut the brisket. It MUST be cut across the grain or it will be just about impossible to chew!
Briskets come shrink-wrapped. It’s best to cut open the shrink wrap packaging in your (CLEAN!) sink. Although this flat cut brisket had very little juice in it, the point cut package was filled with brine which you don’t want all over your counter tops! Rinse the meat off with cool running water.
The point cut I bought came with its own packet of spices. (It didn’t say what spices, but they did smell really good!)
Since the flat cut didn’t come with its own spices, I decided to add about 10 peppercorns and about 1/8 teaspoon of cloves to the flat cut.
Each of these briskets weighs about 3 pounds. That should be enough to feed about 4-6 people.
When cooking large pieces of meat you have to make sure you are choosing the correct cooking method that is appropriate to the cut of meat.
Corn beef brisket requires long, slow, moist cooking, either on the stove top or in the oven. (How to Cook Like Your Grandmother has an excellent photo-tutorial on cooking corned beef in the oven.) I’ll show you the stove-top version.
Set the brisket in a large heavy pot with a lid.
Cover the brisket with water.
Cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
Then reduce the heat to simmer and let simmer about 4 hours.
By then it should be really tender. The meat will have also shrunk by about a third!
Point Cut – Cooked
Plank/Flat Cut – Cooked
Again, remember that when you are slicing the brisket, be sure to slice the meat across the grain!
If you cook your brisket the day before you are planning on eating it, it will be much easier to cut perfect slices. After slicing your corned beef brisket it will then reheat beautifully in the microwave.
Cutting Point Cut
Cutting Flat Cut
At the grocery store, while buying my corned beef brisket, I met a college student planning to cook a St Patrick’s Day feast for 15 of his friends.
Sean Carr, a 20 year old civil engineering student at Northeastern University, cooks his corn beef brisket in a covered roasting pan with 2 inches of water at 325 degrees for 5-5.5 hours.
If you are cooking several briskets for a party, this is actually a very clever way to do it. I would add that you should lay the meat in the pan with the fattiest side up. Set the pan on middle rack in the oven. Carefully pour boiling water around the briskets and seal the pan with a tin foil cover.
Sean said his briskets “came out tender, juicy and delicious!”! He also said, “Most college students survive on Mac and Cheese and Ramen (noodles), but I do my best to break away from that mold”. Good for you, Sean! Maybe between you and startcooking.com your roommates will learn to cook by the time you all graduate!
P.S.: Looking for more meat recipes? My beef stew is a great stew for beginner cooks to make!
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