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Harry

Good Prepared Corned Beef

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This question is mainly aimed at Northeasterners. Who makes the best corned beef? I'm not talking about cooked, sliced corned beef for sandwiches. I'm talking about uncooked corned beef briskets. I live in the South and Murphy & David's seems to be the omnipresent corned beef in grocery stores down here. It's not very good. I've had better luck with Freirich corned beef briskets. Thanks in advance for any suggestions from the corned beef enthusiasts on this forum. Any tips on cooking the beef are also welcome.

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Have you tried making it yourself? It's one of those curing projects that doesn't require a special space or a smoker or even special curing salts, unless you want it to have the bright red color of meats cured with nitrates. I use nitrite/nitrate salts for dry cured meats and some other things, but for corned beef, which stays in the refrigerator until cooked, I just use kosher salt and spices. Basically, you salt and spice the meat (brisket or the top round usually) in a big Ziploc bag, turn it once a day for 2-4 weeks, and when you're ready to cook it, rinse off the salt or if it's been in the cure for a very long time you might soak it overnight, and then you can simmer it in water, deli style, or braise it.

The cured meat will last for months in the bag, so you can always keep one on hand without feeling you've locked in the menu for three weeks from the day you've started it. If you make a large corned beef, you can cut off part of it and cook it and leave the rest in the bag. The aroma when you open up the bag for the first time is really incredible, like you're suddenly standing in Katz's deli.

There's a good basic recipe in Julia Child's _The Way to Cook_ (if you want something more Jewish style, leave out the sage from her recipe, add a bit more bay leaf and several cloves of garlic to the mix) and another version that uses pink salt as I recall in Polcyn and Ruhlman's _Charcuterie_.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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Thanks, David. I've never tried corning my own beef but intend to someday. I'm glad to hear it's not too complicated.

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I'll second David's suggestion - do it yourself. For years I have made my own corned beef using brisket (I think it a better cut for this purpose). Unlike David, I have used a brine, keeping it in a cool room or basement. It takes longer and I like the end product better. In either case, the end result is better than most corned beefs since you have full control from choosing the meat to controlling the spices. All you need is a bit of patience.

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Do either of you have a favorite commercially-corned beef if you don't have time to corn your own?


Edited by Harry (log)

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The ones I've tried are Freirich, which is usually available in New York, and I've had another brand called "Mosey's" with the name in a fake Hebrewish typeface (not sure if they're still around), and they're okay, but really nowhere near as good as home made. As far as prepared corned beef goes, if you don't live in a place that has good deli, I'd look for Vienna Beef from Chicago.

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Mosey's is the brand I see around a lot in New York City. By the way, the terminology for retail corned beef seems to be "ready-to-cook" (a big piece of corned beef that still needs to be cooked) versus "ready-to-eat" (sliced deli meat).


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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