St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and for many people, that means enjoying a plate of delicious corned beef. But what exactly is corned beef, and why is this traditional Irish dish so popular this time of year? Put on something green and get ready to learn everything you need to know for your St. Patty’s Day dinner!
Corned beef is a traditional dish with a rich history.
Corned beef is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal brought to the United States by Irish immigrants in the 18th century. The “corned” in “corned beef” comes from the curing process. Centuries ago, people cured meat with salt and spices as a preservation method. Before refrigeration, all it took to prevent spoilage was rubbing salt pellets, often the size of corn kernels, into the meat.
When cooked, corned beef is tender and balanced, combining salty, tangy and sweet flavors. It’s traditionally paired with cabbage, potatoes, beets and carrots.
Brisket is the most popular cut for corned beef.
Brisket gets cut from a cow’s breast or lower chest. It is a tough cut of meat with a lot of connective tissue, making it ideal for slow-cooking methods like braising, roasting or smoking. Brisket flats and brisket points are favorites among most corned beef consumers.
Brisket Flats: The flat cut is lean, uniform and rectangular in shape, and it comes from the lower part of a cow’s chest. With its even shape and a thin layer of fat, the flat cut is excellent for those who enjoy leaner meat and a more consistent slice. When it comes to flavor, flat cuts must be carefully seasoned as they lack some of the natural fatty flavors found in brisket points.
Brisket Points: Butchers cut the point cut from a cow’s upper chest. The point cut is triangular and wider at one end. Brisket points contain more fat and are more tender than brisket flats, which means they have more flavor even when cured with salt and simple spices. If you enjoy a fattier, more marbled cut of meat with rich flavors, you can’t go wrong with brisket points for your corned beef feast.
Brisket is perfect for corned beef because it is rich in flavor and ultra tender. But brisket flats and points aren’t the only options for your corned beef meal. You can also opt for beef rounds, which are leaner cuts of meat. And don’t forget about splurge-worthy grass-fed corned beef!
Corned beef round is an excellent alternative to brisket.
A round cut comes from a cow’s hindquarters and is leaner than a brisket. Corned beef made from beef round has a firmer texture and milder beef flavor but can still taste terrific when prepared correctly. It’s the go-to cut if you’re looking for corned beef that contains less fat.
Grass-fed corned beef is a healthy, sustainable and satisfying splurge for St. Patty’s Day!
Ranchers selling grass-fed beef feed their cattle a natural grass and forage diet instead of corn, soy and other grains. Research has found that grass-fed meat is more nutritious, containing higher omega-3s, vitamins and minerals, and lower levels of unhealthy fats, hormones and antibiotics.
In addition to nutritional benefits, grass-fed beef is more sustainable than grain-fed. Cattle that feed on grass and graze in pastures help improve soil health and promote biodiversity.
Grass-fed beef also delivers complex flavors different from that of grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef tends to be gamier and less fatty. Some even say it has a grassy flavor profile. This unique profile is all due to the natural forage diet which changes the flavor, texture and color of the meat.
Making a tasty corned beef dinner on St. Patrick’s Day is easy!
Not only is it a storied Irish tradition, but corned beef and vegetables offer an easy, tasty and filling meal to enjoy by yourself or with friends and family. You can’t go wrong with a tender corned beef flat, juicy corned beef point or lean corned beef round. But if you’re in the mood to splurge on something special, grass-fed corned beef brisket is the best way to spend your green on St. Patrick’s Day.