As the definition of Corned Beef is already explained at Wikipedia there is no need for me to go into this. Let me also restate that this post presents my taste and my opinion and that I do not have any financial gains from it.
As St. Patrick’s Day is here again many of our taste buds are craving for our annual Corned Beef pilgrimage.
Looking through the meat counter nowadays it always amazes me how all the former “cheaper” cuts are now right up there in price with the steaks. Beef shanks, oxtails, short ribs, skirt steaks and all those nowadays fancy chuck cuts used to be the affordable beef dishes. Among these was also the beef brisket. As these cuts were harder to sell we cut some into stew or use them up in Hamburger. In the case of briskets we placed them in a saltwater cure and cooked them to sell as sandwich meat.
To speed up the process at commercial processors the meat was injected with the brine and ready to be sold in a couple of days. Naturally if the meat would retain more of the water in the brine the profits would be much larger.
Read the package label as the success story here is right on it: Contains up to 40% added water. I think it does not take a math genius to figure this one out.
Back to the hype of St. Patty’s Day. Every meat department is promoting corned beef briskets this week with many samples given out, especially with the ready to eat kind.
A sample from one of the well known manufacturers was 80% bun, raw Sauerkraut any decent Bavarian would consider way below standards and a little bit of corned beef you could not even taste; Good Job trying to sell your product or as Clara said: Where is the Beef?
The Sauerkraut: A decent Sauerkraut should be drained, washed and cooked for at least a couple of hours and has to have onions and diced Bacon added (see our recipe at Inge’s Kitchen), which is by Kosher standards impossible.
If we find a corned beef brisket at the right price during the year we have a boiled dinner occasionally. Usually you have to at least double the poundage you buy as they shrink heavily while you cook them.
Deciding to join the crowds and have a traditional Detroit area St. Patty’s Day dinner, boiled with potatoes, cabbage, onions and carrots added to it the last hour, I wanted to go the extra mile (actually 40 miles round trip) and buy the right stuff.
So for our weekly coffee outing my butcher friend Steve and I went to the Gratiot Central Market just outside of the Detroit Eastern Market.
Wigley’s Corned Beef is, IMHO, one of the best corned beef suppliers around. Even if the package has the same water added statement as all the other brands, this piece of meat did not shrink down to nothing. The taste was very mild, salted just right and if sliced properly against the grain it could be cut with a fork while still retaining a “bite”**.
I bought enough for one meal for us on Sunday and to my surprise we ended up with enough leftovers for a second meal on St. Patty’s Day itself.
** A “bite” is very important to me, it is something to chew, like a kielbasa made from meat, without all the soy products and other fillers. As an example, if I want an apple to bite into I expect a “bite” not apple sauce!