Learn about the two different cuts of brisket - the flat cut vs. the point cut. What are the pros and cons of each cut? Which cut is more tender and juicy?
Which is the best cut for corned beef?
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Life comes with choices.
Paper or plastic.
Do you want fries with that?
And when it comes to corned beef, do you want point or flat cut. This issue really flares up around St. Patrick's Day each year. The most commonly served meal on that day (at least in America) is corned beef.
Where does corned beef come from? The answer is the brisket. The part of the cow brisket is located is in the front of the cow, toward the bottom, near the cow's front legs. The Niman Ranch cookbook has great diagrams of where the various cuts in the cow are located.
Since the cow uses its front muscles a lot this is a tough cut of beef and contains a lot of connective tissue. A slow cooking method must be used to break that down. Yet it is worth your time because it is a flavorful cut.
🔪 Brisket Cuts
When choosing a brisket, unless you buy the entire brisket, you will have to choose between a flat cut (or first cut) and a point cut (or second cut). It is very easy to tell the difference by just looking at the cuts. Let me tell you more about each one.
🐄 Point Cut Brisket
A point cut comes to a point at one end - see why it's called a point cut! This cut has a lot of extra fat running through it, so when you cook it, it comes out nice and juicy. This is a good choice if you plan on shredding the meat when finished cooking.
🐮 Flat Cut Brisket
You can tell it's a flat cut by the rectangular shape. The flat cut is a much leaner cut than the point. However it still has a thick layer of fat on the bottom, that will keep the meat moist. This is the cut you will most often find in supermarkets, as it looks more appealing the the point cut.
If you are looking for brisket that will slice up nicely, flat cut is your best bet.
🏆 Which Is Best?
It just depends on what you are going to do. Point Cut is better for shredding (flat cut will shred too) and is a bit more tender. But for corned beef I recommend the flat cut.
In the Good Eats episode "Pickled Pink", Alton Brown choose a flat cut to make his own corned beef. I believe as he does that the flat cut is the best cut for corned beef. I prefer the flat cut as the point cut is too fatty for my tastes. I tend to get heartburn from really fatty cuts of beef.
Flat cut is more common to find in the grocery store. It's nicer looking. A lot of stores carry both flat cut and point cut, but if they carry just the one cut it's most likely going to be flat cut. If both cuts weight the same, you will get more usable meat with the flat cut because it has less fat.
Did you know you also can found round used as corned beef instead of brisket. I think it has more of a beefy flavor however brisket produces tender corned beef and that's why I choose it. Check out our post Corned Beef Brisket vs. Round to learn more.
⏲️ Cooking Times
No matter which cut you choose the cooking time does not change. There are several ways to cook corned beef. Most of these are slow-cooking methods.
|Slow Cooker||Cook on low heat for 8 hours|
|Stove Top||Simmer for 3 hours|
|Instant Pot [See our recipe]||Cook at high pressure for 1 hour 25 minutes|
|Sous Vide [See our recipe]||24 hours at 152 degrees|
🚀 Quick Brine Corned Beef
Once you have chosen your type of brisket you will need to cure or brine it to get the flavor you want, unless it comes already pre-brined. I have come up with a method to do this fast (overnight or 24 hours) - it's a dry rub that employs some dry aging methods and utilizes a meat tenderizer. Check out my post - How Can I Quickly Brine Corned Beef
It's not the same thing as buying an already cured corned beef, but it still produces something tasty.
🛒 Where to Buy Prime Brisket
Several times I have seen Costco offering Prime grade beef brisket. I featured it in one of my Costco Food Finds post.
🐄 If you really want to splurge on some high quality brisket, I recommend checking out Porter Road. Top of the line, dry aged, pasture raised meat. Let them be your local butcher that delivers to your door! They also have the uncommon 🐖 Pork Brisket cut. It's the pig equivalent and can be cooked low and slow like beef brisket.
🧂 Curing Your Own Corned Beef
If you going to cure your own corned beef, here are a few things you might consider picking up
- Pickling Spices - If you have a well stock pantry you probably can just make your own spice blend. But if you don't and are looking for a good blend, try this picking spice blend from Boston Spice. You gotta your corned beef spices from the East Coast right?
- Pink Curing Salt - If you want to give your corned beef that classic pink color, you can get by using a pink curing salt.
- Blade meat tenderizer - To help tenderize and break your meat done faster, especially if you need to do a quick cure, then I recommend using a blade meat tenderizer. This is not the hammer your grandma uses. This device has small blades that you push down into the meat.
Still got more corned beef questions, I got answers and I won't say they aren't corny 🙂
- Why Do We Eat Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day?
- Why Is It Called “Corned” Beef?
- What is Uncured Corned Beef?
- Corned Beef Brisket vs. Round
Try out Instant Pot Corned Beef method to make perfect slices for corned beef sandwiches.
☘️ St. Patrick's Day Recipes
Here are out favorite St. Patrick's Day recipes on the blog.
For every St. Patty's, for my Irish relatives and friends, I always buy the Flat Cut Corned Beef. I cook it in my Rival Crock Pot with potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage.
Following the directions I got with my crock pot, I always get a perfect St. Patty's Day dinner. Delicious!
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Honestly, if you can cook beef correctly, either is just fine.as a meat cutter, I am learning what cuts are more tender no matter what and what cuts just need more love. Every customer at my store is buying the flat cuts. There r 5 times more flat cuts sold than point cuts. I myself had always preferred the flat cut but tonight I've realized that there really isn't a big difference since I've just totally enjoyed the Point cut. Just cook things either longer or use more chicken broth and beer. I just had a point cut that I cooked in crock pot on high for 5 hours with broth and water....amazing! Also amazing is when I slow roast a flat in oven with guiness. To me, no more difference between the two when done right.
janet w peters
Costco is selling Shenson's Butcher's cut round corned beef. Can I use that in place of flat cut? Will it taste as good?
Good question. I have not had that exact one. A Butcher's cut is whatever they determine that cut is, but I imagine it is pretty similar and you should be able to use it the same with no problems.
Can you shred a corned beef flat cut?
Yes if you cook it long enough it will shred.