Corned beef is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. However, this versatile cut of beef is perfect for any day of the week.
Like smoked sausages, corned beef stays pink even after it’s cooked. Therefore, some people have started wondering whether or not beef is already cooked.
Is Corned Beef Already Cooked?
Whether or not corned beef is cooked depends on the type of corned beef you purchase. For example, there is canned corned beef, pre-cooked or deli-style corned beef, and raw corned beef.
Canned beef is fully cooked. So you can technically eat it straight out of the can.
However, I would not recommend eating cooked corned beef since it may be cold and mushy. It’s much better to heat the corned beef up even if it is already cooked.
Typically, canned corned beef is made from several cuts of beef that are not suitable to be sold as deli corned beef.
The beef is finely minced and combined with a curing brine, large grains of rock salt (corns), and cooked low and slow.
Nitrates are added to the corned beef mix to help preserve it before it is packed into the characteristic oblong cans and processed.
Most of the corned beef brisket sold in grocery stores is brined. However, it is not cooked.
Corned beef’s name is very misleading. Corn refers to the size of the grains of salt used to cure the corned beef. There are no kernels of corn involved in making corned beef.
There were no refrigerators in those days, so people dry-cured corned beef with large corns of salt to prevent it from spoiling. Therefore, it is called corned beef because of the grains of salt.
Although it is still called corned beef, today’s curing process has changed.
Corned beef is cured in a saltwater or sodium nitrate solution. The nitrates give the corned beef its distinctive pink color.
Yes, cooked corned beef is also pink. Don’t be fooled by this pink color because the corned beef still needs to be cooked.
You can also find corned beef in your local deli. This corned beef is typically already cooked, so you can eat it as soon as you purchase it.
Alternatively, you can also reheat the corned beef for a few minutes to take the chill off.
How to Cook Corned Beef
Since there are a different type of corned beef, I will show you how to cook both canned and raw corned beef.
How To Cook Canned Corned Beef
Canned corned beef is most often used for cooking corned beef hash. To make corned beef hash, you will need peeled and diced potatoes, onions, black pepper, and corned beef.
Do not add more salt to the corned beef, as it has already been cured with salt. If you add more salt to it, the corned beef would be overly salty and ruin the entire hash.
Place 1-2 tablespoons of oil into a skillet and place it over medium-high heat.
Add the diced potatoes and onions once the skillet is hot and cook them for 5 minutes, often stirring, until they are slightly browned. Add the corned beef and stir to combine.
Season the corned beef hash with black pepper. You can also add a tablespoon of vinegar to the hash a teaspoon at a time.
The acid from the vinegar will help cut the salty flavor of the corned beef.
Turn the heat to medium-low, partially cover it, and cook the corned beef hash for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
How To Cook Corned Beef Brisket
If you are cooking a brined corned beef brisket, you will likely want to add some sides, such as carrots and potatoes. Instead of cooking them separately, you can just add them to the corned beef.
Place the corned beef brisket into a large pot and add the spice packet or 1 bay leaf and 2 tablespoons of pickling spice.
Add a cup of beer, beef, or chicken stock to the pot and enough water to cover the entire corned beef. You can also use water if you do not want to add alcohol or stock to your corned beef.
Place the corned beef over medium-high heat and let it come to a boil. Cover the corned beef, decrease the heat to medium-low and cook the corned beef for 2 1/2 -31/2 hours.
It will take 30 minutes per pound of corned beef to cook, depending on the size of the meat.So, it could take less or longer than 3 1/2 hours.
Carefully remove the corned beef from the water, place it onto an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil. Heat your oven to 250°F and put the corned beef into it to keep it warm.
Do not throw out the cooking liquid. It will be used to cook the potatoes and carrots.
Simply bring the corned beef cooking liquid to a boil and add the potatoes and carrots. You can also add some cabbage to the pot to create a heartier dish.
Cook the vegetables for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Remove the potatoes and carrots from the liquid and place them onto a serving platter.
You can also toss the vegetables in garlic butter to give them even more flavor.
Let the corned beef rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it across the grain and serving it with the veggies.
How to Tell if Corned Beef is Cooked?
Since corned beef remains pink when it is cooked, color is not a good indicator of whether corned beef is cooked or not.
The corned beef, as well as the vegetables, will be fork tender when cooked. In addition to this, the corned beef will have a minimum internal temperature of 160°F to be safe for consumption. However, to get the most tender corned beef, cook it to an internal temperature of 190°F.
Corned beef is a tasty salty delight. However, depending on the type of corned beef, it may or may not be fully cooked. Nevertheless, you should always inspect the package to determine if the corned beef is fully cooked.