The Right Way To Order Corned Beef For St. Patrick's Day

Originating in 1631 to honor the eponymous saint, St. Patrick's Day is known in modern times as a day of revelry and relaxation. From exciting morning parades to raucous nights of bar hopping to McDonald's Shamrock Shakes, St. Paddy's Day is a vibrant and joyous occasion for people of all backgrounds. You don't need to be Irish to dress in green head to toe, raise a celebratory pint of Guinness, or indulge in corned beef. 


Eating corned beef on St. Patrick's Day isn't common in Ireland itself as the tradition originated in the 19th century in the United States. While corned beef cost a pretty penny in Ireland, it was very inexpensive in the United States. So when Irish people immigrated to the United States, they took advantage of the cheap food and turned it into a dish worthy of any holiday feast.

Corned beef is simply brisket that has been preserved with salt. Some fancier varieties of corned beef will also be coated with herbs and spices like peppercorn and coriander. At its best, this cut of meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender with a perfectly seasoned, robust flavor. While it's definitely possible to make your own corned beef, for the best eating experience, you'll be better served going to your local deli or meat counter. And if you know the right way to order, you're guaranteed an unbeatable St. Patrick's Day delight.


The best cuts to get

The type of brisket used to make corned beef can have a huge effect on the final product's taste and texture. All beef brisket comes from the muscle that connects a cow's legs and chest, but this cut of meat is big enough that there are variations between one end and the other. The "flat" of the brisket has a firm yet tender texture that makes it ideal for corned beef, while the brisket's "point" results in more fatty, less flavorful slices. As for the optimal cut of brisket for corned beef, delicatessen expert and owner Norm Langer tells Tasting Table that going for whole brisket corned beef will get you the best of both worlds. You may have to buy a bit more at a time, but that's perfect for St. Patrick's Day parties or families that thrive on leftovers.


Langer also recommends opting for corned beef made from whole brisket since the extra fat will make everything more succulent. As Langer says, "All meat has to have a little bit of fat in order to boost the taste." Even if you don't enjoy fatty cuts of meat, ordering a whole brisket will allow you to cut away excess fat after it has had a chance to imbue the leaner portions with moist, rich flavor.

Buying corned beef for a crowd

If you want to throw a St. Paddy's Day party, going with a full-cut corned beef brisket is your best bet for flavor and efficiently serving the most people. You can expect the average person to eat about a half pound of corned beef, so a pound can feed two people. An entire cut of brisket can weigh anywhere from 10 to 16 pounds, which means even a small one can easily satisfy 20 guests. If you'd rather not be forced to exercise while transporting your brisket, or if you don't have that many party-goers to feed, you can also ask for corned beef made just from the flat of the brisket.


Corned beef may be the star of your St. Patrick's Day meal, but it should be far from the only player. The sliced and spiced meat goes well with any number of vegetables like roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots, and artichokes. Of course, no Irish celebration is complete without a healthy array of potatoes, be they mashed, baked, or anything in between. Cabbage is an especially popular pairing for corned beef. In fact, eating cabbage and corned beef is a New Year's tradition as well as a St. Patrick's Day classic.

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