Disclaimer: Some of the links you will find below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Cookies will be used to track the affiliate links you click.
Life comes with choices.
Paper or plastic.
Do you want fries with that?
And when it comes to brisket, do you want point or flat cut. This issue really flars 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 corn 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, so a slow cooking method must be used. Yet it is worth your time because it is a flavorful cut.
When choosing a brisket, unless you buy the entire brisket, you will have to choose between a flat cut and a point cut. It is very easy to tell the difference by just looking at the cuts.
Point Cut Brisket
A point cut comes to a point at one end. The point cut has a lot of fat running through it, so when you cook it, it comes out nice and juicy. This cut is harder to find in supermarkets, as it isn't as attractive of a cut as the flat. This is a good choice if you plan on shredding the meat when finished cooking.
Flat Cut Brisket
The flat cut is a much leaner cut than the point. However it still has a 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. It is also the cut used most often when you buy packaged corned beef.
Which Brisket Cut is Better: Flat or Point
It just depends on what you are going to do. Point Cut is good for shredding, but for corned beef opt for 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.
How to Quickly Cure/Brine Your Own 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
Buying USDA Prime Beef Brisket
Several times I have seen Costco offering Prime grade beef brisket. I featured it in one of my Costco Food Finds post.
What to Buy for 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.
Answers to Other Corned Beef Questions
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?