5 Slow-Cooker Tips for Corned Beef

BY: Joan Ginsberg









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.


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).









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.









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.

















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.



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.









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


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.


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.)


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.)


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!)


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.






For National Soup Month – Chicken Matzo Ball

BY: Joan Ginsberg

There is only one way to write about the intersection of National Soup Month and deli:

 Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

A simple looking dish, this soup was full of wonderful flavor.

A simple looking dish, this soup was full of wonderful flavor.

Whether you call it matzo, matzoh, matza, or matzah – this soup is a constant among Jewish delis everywhere. I believe that matzo soup is the standard that all Jewish deli should be judged by. No matter what their corned beef or pastrami tastes like, a true deli has to be able to serve this soup and do it justice.

Here are two things we think you should look for –and find- in a good chicken matzo ball soup.


Rich, chicken-y tasting broth. The broth can be as clear as a bell or full of bits and pieces of chicken and vegetable from the stock-making process, but it absolutely needs to taste like the chicken simmered for hours in water full of vegetables. No actual chicken or vegetables are required, and some delis serve chicken soup with vegetables and/or chicken separately.

Some restaurants also add a food color called Egg Shade to their stock in order to give it a visually appealing, bright yellow appearance. But as Duke Ellington said in 1931, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

The distinctive yellow is food coloring.

The distinctive yellow is food coloring.

Perfectly balanced matzo ball. The matzo ball doesn’t have to be huge, although many delis do make them so large that there is barely room for broth in the bowl. It does have to be flavorful – you should able to taste the matzo meal, chicken fat, egg, and soup liquid that went into the making. It should be tender and easily sliced with the side of a spoon, without the sphere falling to pieces after removing the first chunk. Miss something in the balance – not enough flavor or too soft/hard – and your soup has failed.

While this soup is visually appealing, the broth and matzo were very bland.


Do you have a favorite place to eat matzo ball soup? Tell us in the comments or post a picture on our Facebook page.

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!

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!