Perfect Corned Beef
Ever wonder how deli-style corned beef can be sliced into perfect slices without shredding like your Sunday pot roast?
Finding the right cut is the first step. You will find plenty of bargains around St. Patrick’s Day. Supermarket corned beef comes in two versions, a “point” cut and a “flat” cut. If you like a corned beef that has a high amount of fat and is difficult to slice go for the cheaper of the two cuts, the point cut. If you want a piece of corned beef that yields picture perfect slices that are great for sandwiches you’ll want to sort through the corned beef in the butcher case to find a flat cut. This cut has very little waste and can actually be a better bargain than the cheaper point cut that can often be 50% fat.
Take a minute or two and pick the packages up; look at them closely. Find one that is about 2-3 inches thick. Look at each side and go for one that looks even with no streaks of fat running through the middle of the meat. A layer of fat on the top is desirable, but not running through the middle of the cut. Buy a piece larger than what you need, it will shrink quite a bit while cooking, but one that will fit in your pan.
My preferred cooking method for this is a pressure cooker. You can also simmer corned beef on top of the stove or braise it pot-roast style in the oven, but pressure-cooking will remove much of the excess salt used to cure the beef, leaving the meat tender and moist. It also cooks in an hour.
Remove the meat from the package and rinse it well. Throw that little package of spices that often comes with corned beef away. There’s really not enough of anything there to give much in the way of flavor and I feel the bay leaves overpower the meat.
Tie the roast in both directions to help keep it’s shape and place on a rack in a pressure cooker. Add plain water according to you pressure cooker’s instructions. In my 6-quart pressure cooker and a rack that holds the meat about 2 inches from the bottom of the pan, I need about 3 quarts of water. No need to season the water, the beef is already highly seasoned, probably even too highly salted for most tastes.
Cook the beef under pressure for 60 minutes. Remove the roast from the pan after the pressure drops and the lid is safe to remove. Discard the cooking water-it’s yucky. Cook your cabbage and potatoes separately in chicken broth.
Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, place on a flat plate. Place another plate on top and weigh it down with heavy cans, or a very heavy pan (the more weight the better). Allow the meat to cool for at least an hour (or over night). Unwrap and slice with a sharp knife. Voila! Corned beef that can be sliced as thick or thin as you like, without shredding. Serve with cabbage that is stir fried in a little bit of butter until just tender and a glass (or two) of Guinness.