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Corned Beef Fat Side up or Down?

Corned Beef Fat Side up or Down?

Unlike brisket, corned beef is not a delicate cut of beef. Nearly any cooking method will yield a tender, juicy meal.

But the most crucial question is corned beef fat side up or down.

What Is Corned Beef?

In short, corned beef is meat that’s been cured using a salt solution. Salt curing was the only way to cure meat in the past since there was no refrigeration.

Traditionally, all types of meat were used to make corned beef. However, corned beef is almost always beef brisket in the modern world.

What Is Brisket Fat Cap?

Ever noticed how brisket has a layer of fat on top of it?

Ever noticed how this layer of fat melted when you placed it into your offset smoker and turned a beautiful dark brown/black color? That’s the fat cap.

The fat cap refers to a dense layer of hard fat that is on top of the corned beef.

For the fat to render, you have to trim the brisket. Luckily with the right tools, you can trim your brisket in no time at all.

Should I Trim the Fat off of Corned Beef?

When cooking corned beef, it is best to select the flat part of the brisket instead of the tip. The tip will be tougher.

Whether you trim the fat cap is up to you. Some people prefer to trim the fat before cooking the brisket.

On the other hand, some people prefer to remove the fat after it’s been cooked.

Should I Submerge the Corned Beef?

Yes, you should submerge the corned beef. If the corned beef is submerged in water, beer, broth, cider, or another type of liquid, it will cook faster than if it were cooked with dry heat.

In addition to this, the corned beef will also cook evenly.

If the entire corned beef is not submerged in water, the bottom half of the corned beef will be tender, while the top part of the meat will be tough as nails.

Should You Cook Corned Beef Covered or Uncovered?

Whether you should cover corned beef covered or uncovered depends on the cooking method.

If you are slow-cooking or braising the corned beef, you should cover it.

On the other hand, if you are smoking the corned beef in your electric smoker, you can cook it, covered cook for the first few, it covered.

But you must uncover the corned beef during the last few hours of cooking time.

How To Know When Corned Beef Brisket Is Done?

Corned beef is safe to eat once it has a temperature of 145°F. However, if you want fork-tender corned beef, you need to cook it longer.

The corned beef will still have a pink color even when it’s finished cooking. The pink color does not mean the corned beef is not cooked.

This is because of the nitrates used to cure the meat.

This is why you should use an infrared thermometer to determine if your corned beef is done. Ideally, you should cook your corned beef to 190°F.

Corned Beef Fat Side up or Down

With debates such as brisket fat side up or down and brisket vs. pulled pork, it’s no surprise that humans have started wondering if they should cook corned beef fat side up or down.

The answer is it depends.

Cooking corned beef fat side down keeps the seasoning where it should be. The fat cap will melt as the corned beef cooks.

If you place the corned beef into your propane gas smoker fat side down, the seasoning will not be washed away by the fat as it renders.

In addition to this, it will also make your corned beef look better. The Milliard reaction occurs when the corned beef starts to dry out, and the proteins begin to bind.

This will give your corned beef a beautiful, rich, dark color.

Ever noticed how boiled corned beef has an unappealing greyish color? This is because the Milliard reaction does not occur.

The surface of the beef does not have the chance to dry out, and the proteins do not bond.

As mentioned above, the fat cap will render as the brisket cooks.

As previously mentioned, if you smoke with the fat cap up, that rendered fat will drip down the meat.

In addition to this, the concept behind cooking the meat fat side up is that it will act as a safety guard.

Essentially if your offset smoker has the heating instrument at the top of the unit, it would be best to cook the corned beef fat side up.

Corned Beef Fat Side up or Fat Side Down in a Slow Cooker

When it comes to slow cooking or slow roasting corned beef, fat side up is the winner, hands down. This allows the corned beef to be exposed to a steady source of moisture. 

As the fat renders, it will baste the corned beef and prevent it from drying out. 

How To Cook Corned Beef Fat Side Up

Place a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy pot. Make sure you use a pot big enough to fit the entire corned beef.

Add some sliced onions and cook them over medium-high heat. 

Depending on the size, you will need to use 1 small onion for every 2 pounds of meat.

Set your corned beef on top of the onions fat side up. Then add your preferred seasonings to the corned beef.

Add enough liquid so that the water line comes up to the fat cap but does not cover it. You can use water, beef or chicken broth, beer, or apple cider as a cooking liquid.

Let the corned beef come to a boil, then decrease the flame to medium-low and cook the corned beef until tender.

The cooking time of corned beef depends on the size of your corned beef. The equation is 1 hour for every pound of corned beef.

The corned beef is done when a food-safe thermometer registers a temperature of160°F. Let the cooked corned beef rest for 10 minutes before carving it.

How To Cook Corned Beef Fat Side Down

If you are using a natural gas grill, heat it to medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill or smoker, fill it up with charcoal and heat it to medium-high.

Coat a shallow pan with nonstick cooking spray and set the corned beef in the pan fat side down.

Wrap the corned beef tightly with foil and place it into your grill or smoker. Cook the corned beef for at least an hour for every pound of meat.

When the corned has a temperature of 160°F or high, it is finished cooking. Let the smoked corned beef rest for 10 minutes before carving it.

If you want to put your corned beef directly onto the cooking grates of your kamado grill, place a drip pan directly underneath it.

The fat that renders from the corned beef could cause a fire if there is nothing to catch the drippings underneath the meat.

Final Thoughts

In the case of corned beef fat side up or down, it is up to you. Essentially, fat side up is better for corned beef cooked in liquid.

In contrast, fat side down is better for corned beef cooked directly on the heating unit, such as the smoker.

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