Brisket Vs. Corned Beef

Smoked Brisket With Sides

Who would put two different cuts of beef against each other? BBQ enthusiasts, that’s who. I myself happen to be an enthusiast, and one thing I will say is that we love learning about different cuts of meat.

For those who have finally discovered the joy of smoking large slabs of meat, it is only natural to wonder if beef brisket is better than corned beef and vice versa. However, the answer is not black or white, but let’s discuss these two cuts of beef in depth before moving on to which one is better.

Corned Beef Vs. Brisket

Let me start by saying, corned beef and brisket are two very distinct cuts of meat. Yes, initially, they will start out as the same thing, but they end up as different products.

Beef brisket is sold in its raw state while corned beef is cured in a brine which helps it maintain its vivid red, pinkish color. Therefore, if the meat does not undergo the brining process, it will be labeled brisket, not corned beef.

What Is Brisket?

Brisket is a primal cut of beef. This means it is one of the first portions of beef to be removed from the steer. Brisket is carved from the lower breast portion of the steer, above the front leg, and beneath the neck. Each steer yields two whole briskets.

The chest area of the animal gets a lot of exercise. After all, it has to hold up the entire steer. Therefore, it is extremely tough and must be cooked low and slow for hours to achieve a tender cut of meat.

Brisket is divided into the flat cut and the point cut. If you purchase a whole packer brisket, you will end up with a point and a flat cut. However, you can also buy these cuts of brisket individually.

The point and the flat are never to be used interchangeably. The fat is much leaner and has a thin layer of fat running throughout it. Although the flat has the same layer of fat running throughout the meat, it has a fat cap that is 1/2-inch in thickness.

Brisket is a fatty, large slab of meat that is sold in pieces that -range from 7-10 minutes. Brisket can also be used to produce hamburgers because of its high-fat content. The only drawback of brisket is that it will shrink about 2/3 of its original weight once it is cooked.

How To Cook Brisket

Even though brisket takes forever to cook, it is a carefree limited effort once you have actually started the smoking process.

If you plan to pull out your propane smoker and smoke brisket, you must trim most of the fat cap from the brisket. However, do not trim too much of the fat away as it will render and melt into the creating a juicy cut of meat. Best of all, you can cook several other dishes such as BBQ baked beans or BBQ coleslaw while the brisket is cooking.

To prepare your brisket, you need a BBQ rub. You can make your own rub using spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and garlic powder, or you can use your favorite store-bought BBQ rub.

If you are making BBQ rub from scratch, make sure you use salt and sugar. These ingredients work to produce the brisket’s characteristic bark.

Rub the brisket with the BBQ rub making sure to get every crevice. Wrap the brisket with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 4 hours or 24 hours.

Remove the brisket 1 hour before you intend to cook it. Get your electric smoker or portable pellet grill ready and allow it to come up to 225°F. Once the smoker or grill comes up to temperature, arrange the brisket on the cooking grates fat-side up.

Close the dome and cook the brisket until it reaches 185°F. Note, the brisket’s temperature may increase 5-10 minutes during the resting phase. 

Remove the brisket from your smoker or grill and wrap it tightly with foil. Allow the brisket to rest in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes.

Unwrap the smoked brisket, place it onto a butcher block, and cut any visible fat. Cut the smoked brisket into thin slices across the grain and serve it immediately with BBQ sauce.

Alternatively, you can also braise the brisket. But you must make sure you check the brisket’s temperature with an infrared thermometer to ensure it remains consistent.

How Long Does It Take To Smoke Brisket? 

The equation for smoking brisket at 225°F is 1-1 1/4 hours for every pound of brisket. Ultimately, an 8-pound brisket will take 9-10 hours to cook. Brisket is finished cooking when it has an internal temperature of 195°F.

How To Use Smoked Brisket 

It’s virtually impossible to cook a small quantity of brisket. Even though it is delicious, you will probably be left with a mountain of leftover brisket. However, you can easily reheat the brisket, or you can use it to make something new.

To reheat the leftover brisket, you can cover the brisket with spicy BBQ sauce and heat it in a cast-iron skillet until it is warm. You can eat the brisket as is, or you can pile it onto a warm roll and add crunchy fried onions for the best BBQ sandwich.

You can also jazz up mac and cheese with leftover brisket or add it to your scrambled eggs to give it a BBQ flare. You can also mince the leftover brisket and mix it with breadcrumbs and tomato sauce before stuffing it into bell peppers.

Lastly, you can use smoked brisket to make a shepherd’s pie. Simply sauté carrots, celery, and onions, then add beef broth and the chopped brisket. You can even throw in some frozen peas if you like.

Pour the brisket mixture into an oven-safe baking dish and add a layer of creamy mashed potatoes. Bake the shepherd’s pie until it is golden and bubbly and you’ve turned leftover brisket into something amazing.

What Is Corned Beef?

In short, corned beef is brisket that’s been cured in a brining solution. The brine consists of large corns or grains of salt. Corned beef is packaged with a vacuum sealer and has liquid surrounding it.

Corned beef is usually boiled and is popular on St. Patrick’s Day.In addition to this, corned beef is used to make Reuben sandwiches.

Even though brisket is different from corned beef, it still must be cooked low and slow to get the best results. Corned beef should easily pull apart when gently prodded with a fork when done correctly. Ideally, the corned beef should have an internal temperature of 145°F.

Is Corned Beef Unhealthy?

It does not matter whether it is bacon that’s been cured at home or corned beef; all cured meats should be consumed in moderation. Cured meats have a high salt content that can surpass the daily recommended amount of sodium. 

Therefore, corned beef should be saved for special occasions. Nevertheless, you can also decrease the serving size by using it as an ingredient in other dishes.

Should I Rinse Corned Beef Before Cooking It?

You don’t have to rinse corned beef before cooking it, but it will remove some of the sodium. The only drawback of washing corned beef before cooking it is it will remove some of the meat’s natural juices.

How To Use Leftover Corned Beef

Just like brisket, it’s impossible to finish corned beef in one sitting. You can reheat the corned beef on its own or sauté it with leftover boiled potatoes, onions, garlic, and butter to make corned beef hash.

You can also mince the leftover corned beef and use it as a filling for egg rolls, perogies, or empanadas. Corned beef can even be used as a topping for baked potatoes or beef stroganoff.

Can You Taste The Difference Between Corned Beef And Brisket?

Yes, you can taste the difference. Corned beef is saltier than brisket because it went through the brining process.

 In addition to this, corned beef has a slightly drier texture than brisket, even if it is cooked in a sauce. Corned beef will also maintain its reddish, pinkish color while brisket turns brown as it cooks.

Which Is Better, Corned Beef Or Brisket

The truth is I cannot definitively say which cut of beef is better. Whether corned beef or brisket is better depends on your personal preference as well as which cut you are cooking and how you intend to serve it.

I can say that brisket is the most versatile cut of the two. Plus, if you want to have leftovers for a few days, brisket is the best option. Nevertheless, corned beef is still an equally delicious cut of beef.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the difference between brisket and corned beef is the best way to truly enjoy these cuts of beef. Just remember, corned beef starts out as brisket, but it is different from brisket. As for which one is best, I will leave that tough decision up to you.

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