Corned BeefA corned beef dinner can be cooked in a slow cooker, on top of the stove, in a pressure cooker, or even baked. I prefer it cooked in water, so I won’t talk about baking it. Whether you use the slow cooker, the pressure cooker, or a pot on top of the stove, it’s pretty much the same. You cover the corned beef with water, add some seasonings, and simmer it gently until it’s fall apart tender. You can cook it all day in the slow cooker on low or for one hour in the pressure cooker or for a few hours in a pot on top of the stove. Most people cook the veggies – carrots and onion for sure, and maybe celery, parsnips, or rutabagas, and probably potatoes – with the meat and then add the cabbage for the last half hour or so.
When I cooked corned beef a couple of weeks ago (it was leftover from when it was on sale a year ago and really needed to be used), I cooked it in the pressure cooker. When it was done, I took it out of the liquid and set it aside to rest. Then I took some of the liquid and cooked some Brussels sprouts and carrots in it. By the time the vegetables were done, the meat had rested enough that it was much easier to cut, and the vegetables weren’t cooked to death. It worked great.
In case you didn’t catch it – be sure to let the corned beef rest for a bit before you cut it. You want to slice it across the grain and it will fall apart if you cut it immediately. After fifteen minutes or so, it should stay together pretty well so you can make nice thin slices. About a quarter of an inch or so seems to be standard for slicing corned beef to eat as a meat dish on its own.
In case you’re wondering about all the different kinds of corned beef this week, here’s a quick run-down on them. I don’t remember ever hearing of corned beef rounds before, so I did a bit of research. Apparently it’s just what it sounds like. Corned beef rounds are made from the round (think round steak or round roast) and are leaner than the briskets. Corned beef briskets are made from the brisket, or the chest of the animal. The brisket comes in two cuts, the point and the flat cut. The point is sort of triangular in shape, and the grain runs in different directions, making it harder to cut across the grain. The grain of the flat is consistent. The point is fatter than the flat cut, with more marbling. In terms of popularity, the point seems to be the most popular, followed by the flat cut brisket, and then the rounds. Corned beef really shrinks when you cook it.
Figure on about half as much cooked as you started with raw. So to get a pound of cooked corned beef, you’ll have to buy two pounds raw. To get twelve ounces cooked, you’ll need a pound and a half (24 ounces) raw.