5 Slow-Cooker Tips for Corned Beef

BY: Joan Ginsberg

 

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It’s hard to believe that slow cookers have only been around since 1971, when Rival Corporation introduced its iconic “Crock-Pot” to the mass market. To people like Sy Ginsberg, who was cooking corned beef for years before this appliance was available, putting corned beef in the slow cooker is not the traditional or preferred method of delivering up that brisket on St. Paddy’s Day.

But many people prefer to use this appliance for corned beef, because using the stove-top takes a long time anyway, and a slow cooker is less messy and more “whole dinner” friendly.

When someone asks us for directions using a slow cooker, though, we are a little stumped. That is because the size of the piece of beef, the shape of the cooker, and the heating times are so different from one household to another, any type of “one size fits all” instruction is almost impossible.

Almost.

Here are a few tips – not instructions! – if you insist on using the slow cooker to make a perfect piece of Sy Ginsberg’s Corned Beef.  All of these tips envision that you are using an average size piece (3-4 pounds).

 6 QUART OR BIGGER COOKER

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I own 3 cookers – 7, 6 and 5.5 quarts.  The smaller cooker, even though it is rectangular and appears to be the proper shape, doesn’t hold enough water to fully cover and immerse the beef. Having the beef fully immersed is the cardinal rule of corned beef cooking, no matter the method. Both my 7 and 6 quarts are oval, which is a great shape for a piece of beef. A 6 quart round will work, IF you make sure there is water under, around, and above the meat. One more time – there must be water surrounding the piece of meat.

 VEGGIES IN FIRST

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I always cook carrots with my corned beef, so large hunks of carrot (no smaller than 3” long) should go on the bottom, as well as onion quarters. If you want potato, I recommend using 1/2 pieces of a smaller potato, like a red-skinned or a Yukon gold. Put them in first so that the meat is resting on top of the veggies and there is sufficient space for water to seep underneath it.

Leave the cabbage out of the slow cooker! There just isn’t enough room. Cook the cabbage in a separate pot later, using some corned-beef flavored water from the slow cooker.

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QUIT PEEKING!

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Every time you take the lid off a slow cooker in use, a significant amount of heat and steam is lost, increasing cooking time, especially if you are cooking on a low setting. There is nothing to stir or see when you are cooking corned beef, so don’t open the lid for a minimum of 3 or 4 hours.

USE LOW ONLY


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Again, each slow cooker is totally different as to what “low” and “high” temperatures really are, but my experience is that a 3-4 pound piece of our corned beef will cook in 5-6 hours on low if you leave the lid on. You are welcome to try cooking on high for a couple of hours before turning to low, but we think you will find your beef overcooked most of the time, unless you are sure your cooker temp runs very low.

 USE SUFFICIENT WATER

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I’ve already said this a few times, but it is SO important it deserves a final mention. Cover the entire piece of meat with water. We know that a slow cooker does not lose water to evaporation the way a pot on a stove-top will, but we don’t care. You risk uneven cooking and drying out if it’s not surrounded by water, even in a slow cooker.

 

Want to see the finished meal that was served after these pictures were taken? Check out the cover photo on our Facebook page.

  Do you have a tip to add? We welcome your comments!

Corned Beef Compass Points

CornedBeefCompassPoints

BY: Joan Ginsberg

United Meat & Deli is a company with a Detroit head and heart. We are tough and gritty small business survivors in the take-no-prisoners food industry. We hand trim the briskets and navels we use to make corned beef and pastrami, succeeding in a market where large, over-processed, and machine automated food manufacturing is far more common.

Because of this, people often assume that we only sell our stuff locally, and are surprised when we tell them that we ship product all across the continental USA. So we thought it would be fun this St. Patrick’s Day to illustrate this by finding our current “compass points” – those restaurants and retailers that sell our corned beef at the furthest north, south, east and west locations.

 NORTHERNMOST

Restaurant/Food ServicePier 500 in Hudson, WI. (Finding this location actually required a map and some research, because it is in the greater Minneapolis, MN area, where we have many loyal customers, including Ward 6 Food and Drink, Mystic Lake Casino, O’Gara’s, and Crossroads Delicatessen.)

Retail/MarketCostco in Coon Rapids, MN. (Other Costco stores in the greater Minneapolis area stocking our corned beef are in St. Louis Park, Maple Grove, Eden Prarie, Maplewood, and Burnsville.)

 SOUTHERNMOST

Restaurant/Food ServiceThe Bagel Cove in Miami, FL. (Despite the stranglehold NYC has on the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market, several delis in the area, including The Pastrami Club in Lauderhill, do use our corned beef.)

Retail/MarketCostco in San Antonio or Houston, TX. (There is just a slight difference in latitude between Houston and San Antonio.  If you want to dispute who is more southern, leave us a comment. Many Costco stores in the Dallas area carry our product as well.)

 EASTERNMOST

Restaurant/Food ServiceThe Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill, NJ. (A longtime customer serviced by our New Jersey/Philadelphia-area distributor Foods Galore.)

Retail/Market McCafferys in several New Jersey locations. (We’re not sure if you can buy whole, uncooked pieces at this market or if you must buy it by the pound in the deli. Good either way!)

WESTERNMOST

Restaurant/Food Service Miller’s East Coast Deli in San Francisco, CA. ( They also have a location in San Rafael, but we were too lazy to check which one was actually the furthest west.)

Retail/Market Bristol Farms in several Los Angeles County, CA locations. (This is a by-the-pound market, except at St. Patrick’s Day time when they sell by the piece. Check out their website for a great looking piece of beef!)

If you are looking only for a cook-your-own retail piece, check out our Facebook page (click on “Notes”) for a list of the Costco, Kroger, Detroit and Cleveland area supermarket locations that sell Sy Ginsberg’s Corned Beef.

 

 

 

 

 

Corned Beef or Pastrami? Three Differences

BY: Joan Ginsberg, United Meat & Deli social marketing

UMD Gold Label Pastrami

 

Today is National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day according to some, so we would like to celebrate by answering a frequently asked question:

What’s the difference between corned beef and pastrami?

I can hear some of you snorting sarcastically, because you are a fan of Jewish deli sandwiches, and the difference between the two classic fillers is like the difference between mustard and ketchup. But read on . . .

 

1. Different cuts of meat. Traditionally, corned beef is made from beef brisket, which comes from the lower chest of the steer. Pastrami traditionally is made from beef navel, which is a small piece cut from the muscle known as the plate. I emphasize the word “traditionally” because pastrami in the 21st century is also made from other cuts of beef and poultry, including the ubiquitous turkey pastrami. United Meat & Deli, although widely known for Sy Ginsberg’s Corned Beef, also makes Gold Label pastrami. While navel pastrami is our best-seller, we also make and sell brisket and 1st cut brisket pastrami. The word “pastrami” was originally borrowed from the Turkish word “pastirma” by the Romanians (“pastrama”), who made their dish from pork and mutton.

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of Chicago Meat Authority, one of UMD’s raw beef suppliers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Different cooking methods. Both pastrami and corned beef are cured meats, meaning that they have been injected or otherwise infused with a solution of salted water (brine). But then they travel different paths. Corned beef is ready for cooking and is generally cooked by boiling. Traditional pastrami has additional flavors added (see #3), and is then smoked. A smokehouse or smoking oven is used by most manufacturers (including us), but some may add artificial smoke and then water process their pastrami.

The room at UMD where navels and briskets are injected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Different flavor profiles. Corned beef gets its flavor from whatever spices or flavors the maker puts into the brine. At UMD, our uniquely flavored brine is a guarded trade secret. Pastrami may have similar flavors in the brine, but then the maker of traditional US pastrami goes a step further by rubbing the outside of the meat with various seasonings – a “cocktail of spices”, according to Sy Ginsberg – before it is smoked. There may be regional differences to the flavor profile as well. New York City/east coast pastrami and corned beef often tastes very different than the type made in the midwest.

Compare this pastrami with the corned beef at the top of the page.

 

 

So what’s YOUR preference – corned beef or pastrami? Enjoy either today!

What Food Holiday Is It Today?

This week on our Facebook Page we are acknowledging a different “National [insert food name] Day” every single day, and imagining how that food would pair with traditional deli.

For example, yesterday was National Buttermilk Biscuit day, which naturally conjurs up visions of a sandwich on a biscuit instead of bread. Of course, that’s been done many times with sausage and eggs, but probably not corned beef or pastrami.

Today is National Chocolate Chip day. Remove your favorite sandwich condiment and insert chocolate chips in its place. If you dare.

Tomorrow is National Coquille St. Jacques Day, so think about how you can incorporate that dish into traditional deli. Go to our Facebook Page, give us a like, and let us know what you came up with. Or tell us here in the comments.

Who decides what food to honor on any given day, anyway? We don’t know if there’s more, but we are using the May list from The Nibble specialty food magazine.

 

 

Detroit Tigers Opening Day

If corned beef is Sy Ginsberg’s favorite non-living thing in the world – and we think it might be – then Detroit baseball has to be a really close second. The walls of his cramped office are covered in various forms of Tiger memorabilia, and he claims he has not missed an opening day game in over 40 years. Oh, yes. He has attended the Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp in Lakeland, Florida over 10 times. He doesn’t remember the specific number.

So when the Detroit Tigers Fantasy Campers & Friends hold their annual Opening Day fundraiser for Jack’s Place For Autism, Sy – and United Meat & Deli – is right there to help. Each year the campers hold a tailgate party on opening day, where the admission price buys hamburgers, hotdogs, beer, and other donated goods. UMD proudly donates all of the meat for this fundraiser.

A sea of Tiger blue

That’s Sy on the left, and Jon Warden, pitcher with the 1968 world champion Tigers!

Jack’s is a local 501(c)(3) charity founded by Jim Price, former Tiger catcher and current color announcer to provide services to families dealing with autism, and to ultimately establish a physical center for long term care.

Is Corned Beef Irish or Jewish?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and we love it! We have shipped over one million pounds of corned beef in the past 3 weeks, as restaurants and consumers alike gear up for the traditional St. Paddy Day dish.

But . . . wait a minute! Isn’t corned beef a Jewish delicacy? After all, our personal roots are in the Jewish deli business, and it is sold every day at Jewish or Jewish-style delis across the country.

The truth is, most historians agree that corned beef is not a purely Irish dish. It was adopted by Irish-American immigrants as a cheap alternative to bacon. In Europe, the American fervor for corned beef on St. Pat’s Day is almost unknown.

The same is true for corned beef in Jewish culture – it was largely adopted by Jewish immigrants to America in the late part of the 19th century. It is theorized that the close proximity of Irish and Jewish immigrants in New York City is largely the reason that corned beef seems to be a mainstay of the descendants of both groups.

There is a flavor difference, though, between different manufacturers of corned beef. Some makers use a decidedly Irish flavor in the brine; a more aromatic flavor dependent on spices like bay leaf or clove. UMD counts itself among the meat processors whose corned beef has a distinctly Jewish flavor – a more sweet, garlicky brine. (Our recipe is a secret so we can’t tell you more! :-))

Whichever flavor you prefer, we hope you enjoy a great St. Patrick’s Day with some corned beef as a highlight!

5 Tips For Cooking Corned Beef.

Last week a woman emailed us and asked for instructions on how to cook corned beef in her pressure cooker. She specifically asked about where to set the jiggler, and how much time it would take.

We were all stymied by that question because we come from the restaurant/deli end of the cooking operation, where no one had ever used a pressure cooker. We didn’t even have a clue what a jiggler was.

In fact, if you ask Sy Ginsberg how to cook corned beef, he will generally answer “until it’s done”. While that sounds a bit snarky, the truth is that it is very hard to give generalized instructions for cooking corned beef. Corned beef, although a processed item, is still fresh meat. That means that proper cooking depends in large part on the size and cut of the meat. A whole corned beef brisket that weighs 10 pounds is just not going to cook for the same time and in the same way as a 3 pound piece of first-cut (the thinner, smaller “point” of a whole brisket).

But with St. Patrick’s Day looming and people anxious to make a special corned beef dinner, here are 5 tips we can offer.

WATER

Corned beef should always be cooked in water. Whether you use a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or a pot on top of a stove, you need to have a container large enough for the corned beef to fit in. Then you must cover the meat entirely with water, but only enough water to just cover the meat. If you are cooking on the stove top, you will probably need a stock pot.

COOK THE PIECE WHOLE

Don’t try to cheat by slicing the meat if your pot isn’t large enough. Cutting a whole brisket in half to fit inside of a pot is acceptable, but that’s about the only pre-cooking cut that’s safe. Otherwise your beef will fall apart into a shredded mess. The picture at the top of our blog is a corned beef brisket, sliced after cooking whole.

LOW OR SLOW

If you are using a slow cooker, only cook on low. We can’t tell you how long, because it depends on the size of the meat and every slow cooker is different. Plan on 8-10 hours. If you are boiling on the stove top, once your water has reached boiling, turn it down and keep on a s-l-o-w boil or simmer the entire time. It will likely take several hours.

SKIP THE VEGGIES

Hey, we love a boiled dinner, too (corned beef, cabbage, potato, carrots), but we aren’t a big fan of cooking the vegetables in the same pot and at the same time as the meat. It varies the cook time of the meat too much, and they take up precious water resources in the pot. If you like the taste that the cooking meat imparts on the vegetables, cook the corned beef first and then use the cooking water to cook the vegetables.

FORK TENDER

When Sy says “cook until it’s done”, he means that the thickest part of the meat should be easily pierced with a fork, and the fork removed without lifting the meat. So besides a large pot, you need to have a meat fork with long tines to pierce through a thick piece of beef.

The USDA recommends that corned beef be cooked to an internal temperature of 158 degrees as a safeguard against pathogens, but we recommend a higher internal temp – 165-175 degrees.

By the way, we answered the question about the pressure cooker by pointing her toward this blog. It features a picture of our competitor’s product, but it made our customer happy. :)

How Should You Eat A Corned Beef Sandwich?

Once, when I was in Indianapolis for a flyball tournament,  I offered to pick up lunch for my human teammates at Stanley’s New York Deil (now unfortunately closed). I explained a little bit about deli and what kind of food was available, and then asked for everyone’s order. One of my friends asked for a corned beef sandwich. On white bread. With mayo.

After I hoisted my jaw up off the floor, I explained a little more about corned beef and why her bread and condiment choice might be a little unwise. She stuck to her guns, though, and that was the sandwich she got.

I was embarrassed to order it.

Let’s face it – anyone who knows anything about Jewish deli knows that corned beef belongs on some kind of rye bread or maybe an onion roll. With mustard or Russian dressing, right? In fact, we have heard of at least one cantankerous deli owner who refuses to serve corned beef any other way.

But should we really be so self-righteous about the sandwich choices of others? After all, a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich sounds disgusting to me, but was apparently heaven to Elvis Presley. Who’s to judge?

Should deli supporters rejoice that people are willing to try corned beef or other deli meats in any type of form, or should we insist that only traditional combinations be served, concerned that people will have a bad experience and never return?

We would really like to hear you opinion on this in the comments, because we certainly don’t know the answer.

Why A Deli Blog?

If you Google the term “deli blog”, the results are surprisingly sparse. One of the results is, of course, Save the Deli, brought to you by our good friend and author David Sax. But the rest of the results don’t have much to do with traditional Jewish deli at all. They are about topics as like indie music (huh?) or a Vietnamese noodle joint.

 

The sad reason for this, as many have noted, is that Jewish deli is a dying breed. As explained by David Sax in his bestselling book:

Traditional products are disappearing from menus and shelves because they don’t fit into the bottom line. As have gone the Jews, so too have gone their nearby delis.

This is clearly one of the reasons that there is a large hole  crater in the blogosphere when it comes to deli,despite the glut of food and cooking blogs in general. Deli is not a trendy topic, and most of the people who are excited about the unpaid act of blogging are not going to invest the time and effort into a deli blog.

So who better to help fill that hole than United Meat & Deli? After all, our two owners have a combined deli experience of more than a century, and are the manufacturers of some of the most highly respected deli meat products in the country. We are committed to the preservation and promotion of Jewish deli. Sure, it helps preserve our bottom line, but our biggest desire is to help preserve the deli legacy for future generations. We don’t want to imagine a world where a great corned beef sandwich or hearty matzo ball soup is only a wistful memory.

We are thrilled that you have chosen to join us for the journey and we look forward to discussing all things deli with you. We are also welcome to suggestions for future blog topics and guest posts; leave us a comment!

 

Welcome to Deli Done Right

United Meat & Deli is excited to enter the blogging world, to discuss all things deli! We’ll be up and running soon, so check back frequently, or add us to your favorite reader (subscribe buttons coming soon – promise!).

In the meantime, visit our corporate website at United Meat & Deli, or leave us a comment and tell us what topics interest you.  We’ll listen.