On St.Patrick's Day, corned beef is served in restaurants and homes across the world, but many people prepare corned beef more than once a year. They choose between flat cut and point cut corned beef, each of which has its own characteristics.
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Corn is not used in the making of corned beef. Corning is a form of curing meat using salt. Originally, the beef was cured in pellets of rock salt that looked like kernels of corn. Thus, the term corned beef was born.
The source of corned beef is the brisket, which comes from the cow's breast area. The brisket usually weighs between 8 and 15 lbs. It is often cut into two parts, resulting in point and flat cuts of beef, which become corned beef after going through a salt brining process.
The flat cut is the thinner and leaner section of the brisket. With little fat content, the flat cut can be very tough if cooked incorrectly. Braising the meat keeps it tender and flavorful. The flat cut is most often sold in supermarkets.
The point cut is the thicker of the two. It is much fattier and does not slice as well as the flat cut. It is often slow roasted, resulting in a very flavorful piece of meat that shreds easily and is used in many delis for sandwiches.
Corned beef was the entree at President Abraham Lincoln's 1861 inaugural dinner. It was served with cabbage and parsley potatoes. It is not known which cut was used.