Corned beef is unlike any other cut of beef. Of course, it has the meaty, beefy flavor, but it also has a soft yet tender texture that is simply irresistible.
Depending on how it’s prepared, corned beef can have a sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavor all in one bite.
However, where does corned beef come from? Yes, we know it’s beef, but what part of the cow does corned beef come from?
What Is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is a beef product that’s made from fresh beef brisket. In the same way, bacon is cured, corned beef is cured in a brining solution with pickling spices. Corned beef may also be smoked.
The rough look of corned beef comes from the corned beef being ribbed with salt until it becomes cured.
The salt crystals will pull the moisture from the brisket producing a salty, flavorful cut of meat.
Once it is cooked, the corned beef will look like pastrami which has a grainy texture and color.
Why Do They Call the Meat Corned Beef?
Corned beef was actually invented by the British in the 17th century.
It’s “corned” because the size of the salt crystals used to cure the beef was the size of corn kernels; hence, the term corned beef.
What Part of the Cow Is Corned Beef
The question should be what part of the cow corned beef comes from but what part of the cow brisket comes from.
As I have already mentioned above, corned beef is fabricated from brisket.
This primal cut of beef is a large chunk of meat fabricated from the chest region of the animal.
Brisket has a lot of connective tissues running throughout the meat. Therefore, it is very tough and must be cooked for a long, long time to get it nice and tender.
The brisket holds up a significant portion of the animal and can weigh up to 10 pounds once it’s cooked.
In the US, corned beef is almost always made from brisket. However, corned beef can be fabricated from the silverside in England and Ireland.
Silverside is a cut of beef that comes from the outside of the back legs. It’s located between the knuckle and the upper side of the leg.
Believe it or not, the silver side consists of 5 different muscles. It gets the name silverside because it has a barrier of connective tissue running down.
The silver side is also known as the silver wall cutlet.
What’s the Best Cut of Meat for Corned Beef?
Between brisket and silverside, brisket is definitely the best cut of brisket. Although it is a large chunk of tough meat, it has more fat than silverside, which keeps it moist during the long extended cooking process. If you can only find brisket that’s separated into the flat or the point, choose the flat.
What’s the Difference Between Corned Beef and Brisket
A lot of people lump brisket and corned beef in the same category. However, brisket and corned beef are not the same things.
Yes, corned beef is technically brisket, but all corned beef does not come from brisket.
They are both carved from the chest area of the steer, but they are fabricated differently.
Corned beef is porous and retains its reddish color throughout the cooking process, while brisket turns brown.
Corned beef is also brined, while the brisket is not.
In addition to this, corned beef also contains more fat than brisket, which gives it a better flavor.
Corned beef usually contains more fat than brisket for better flavor development.
How To Cook Corned Beef
I couldn’t discuss which part of the cow corned beef comes from without showing you how to cook corned beef.
There are multiple ways you can cook corned beef, including boiling, or simmering it on the stove or in the crockpot, roasting it in the oven, and grilling corned beef on a natural gas grill.
Nevertheless, because this is a BBQ website, I will show you a hybrid cooking method for corned beef. F
irst, we will smoke the corned beef in an electric smoker, then finish it by braising the meat until it’s tender.
To start, you will need to remove the corned beef from its packaging and submerge it in a large bowl of cold water.
Make sure you use a large container; you do not want the water to spill into the fridge as it will cause cross-contamination.
Do not use hot water, or it could create food safety issues since it could start to cook the beef.
In addition to this, the hot water could also decrease your fridge’s ambient temperature.
To limit cross-contamination, place the corned beef into the fridge on a lower shelf, away from all ready-to-eat foods or leftovers.
Although some people will recommend smoking corned beef as is, I find this method helps dilute some of the salt the meat was cured with.
Remove the corned beef from the fridge, drain it, and pat it dry with paper towels.
Set up your pellet smoker or portable pellet smoker, and while it preheats to 225°F, coat the corned beef with your favorite BBQ rub.
Place the corned beef into your smoker and smoke it for 3 hours until it has a temperature of 165°F.
Add beef broth, salt, pepper, herbs like thyme or rosemary, and vegetables such as onions, potatoes, or carrots to a large pot.
Add the corned beef, cover it and braise it on the stove or in the oven at 350°F until it has a temperature of 200°F.
Let the corned beef rest 10 minutes before placing it on a butcher block and cutting the corned beef across the grain into 1-inch slices.
Unfortunately, you cannot really appreciate corned beef without knowing what part of the cow it comes from.
Corned beef is brisket that comes from the chest region of the steer.
Now that you know this information, you will never be able to look at corned beef the same way.
You might also be interested in the following:
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- What Part of the Cow Is Prime Rib
- What Part of the Cow Ribeye
- What Part of the Cow Is Filet Mignon
- What Part of the Cow Is Oxtail
- What Part of the Cow Is Brisket
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.