Corned beef is naturally challenging to cook since it is from the less tender parts of the meat that need to be braised (slow cooking with moisture at a low temperature). Usually, corned beef is brisket, rump, or round.
While cooking your corned beef, you might have wondered how you can tell when it’s already perfectly cooked. Sometimes, it still looks pink even after it’s done cooking–we understand it can get confusing. After all, no one wants to eat corned beef that’s still undercooked.
Here, we will give you tips on how to know when corned beef is done.
What temperature is corned beef done?
Just like cooking other types of meat, the internal temperature of corned beef, when done, should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 63 degrees Celsius to ensure that your corned beef is perfectly cooked. To do this, you will need an internal thermometer placed in the middle of the meat.
Corned beef is cured in salt brine and with some spices for added flavor. Traditionally, corned beef is brined with sodium nitrates for as long as ten days; that’s why its color will remain pink even if it’s done cooking.
You must cook your corned beef for just an ample amount of time. Overcooking it will make it tough and chewy. The ideal texture of corned beef should be tender, instead.
How to tell if corned beef is done in a slow cooker?
You can tell that the corned beef is done and ready to be served when it is fork-tender. It means that you can insert a sharp utensil or a fork into the center of the cut and encounter very little or no resistance, as well as when you can tear a part of the meat quickly. That’s the best indicator that the corned beef is now tender and ready to be served.
Alternatively, if you have an available internal thermometer, its internal temperature should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit before taking it out of your slow cooker.
What to avoid when making corned beef
Make that satisfying homemade corned beef by avoiding some of the common mistakes and achieving perfection with this classic dish.
Not rinsing the meat
Most people tend not to rinse or wash the meat right after they pull it out of the brine solution, thinking that they will wash away its natural flavor. Fortunately, when you wash your meat, you don’t wash away its flavor. In making corned beef, you wash it thoroughly only to wash off excess salt. Don’t worry about washing away its taste because it’s already infused thoroughly with the meat.
Cooking over high temperature
As discussed earlier, corned beef is cooked with moisture at a low temperature (that’s the real secret to a tender corned beef). When you boil it at a high temperature, there’s a great chance that it will turn tough and chewy.
Even if you cook it in a slow cooker or a pot, it is always best cooked in low heat. It will be worth the wait.
Not enough water in the pot
When you’re simmering the meat over a stovetop, always make sure that there’s enough water to cover the meat inside your pot. You may occasionally check the water level inside the pot and add some more water when the water level is low. Always remember to cover it with a lid again right after you add water. The beef should be submerged. You might as well start with a filled pot to effectively simmer your meat.
Not cooked long enough
Patience is the key when making tender corned beef. Since corned beef is usually made with the tough parts of the meat, the key is not to rush when cooking it. A high heat setting in your stove won’t make it any tender but will make it chewy, instead.
The cooking time for your corned beef differs depending on the size of your meat and the cooking method used.
Usually, if the meat is three pounds for the stovetop, it takes three to four hours to cook thoroughly. Whereas if you’re using a slow cooker, this will usually take eight to ten hours of slow cooking.
Slicing the meat in the same direction as the muscle fibers
Did you know that the way you cut the meat makes a significant difference in your corned beef? Yes, you read that right. The way you slice matters a lot.
As a guide, you may slice it as if slicing a steak. Look for the grain of the meat. The first thing you need to do is look for the lines of visible muscle fibers on the meat, which is the “grain” of the meat. The grain is the tough part of the meat as it supports the animal’s movement. You can easily see this “grain” as it resembles long streaks on the meat and always slice the corned beef against the direction of the grain. As the muscle fibers are shortened, it makes them easier to chew.
How long does corned beef last?
When making massive portions of corned beef, it can’t be helped to have leftovers. Of course, we want to maximize the shelf life to reduce food waste.
When properly stored, a left-cooked corned beef can last up to three to four days in your fridge. To do this, place your cooked corned beef in an airtight container, or you can wrap it tightly with cling wrap or aluminum foil before you refrigerate it.
To extend its shelf life further, you may choose to freeze the corned beef. Same with refrigerating it, place your cooked corned beef in an airtight container, or you can wrap it tightly with cling wrap or aluminum foil before you put it in a freezer. If done correctly, it can last around two to three months.
While corned beef is stored at room temperature (around 20 to 22 degrees Celsius or 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit), it may last only for three to four hours as bacteria multiply, causing it to spoil quickly.
If you are unsure if the corned beef is still safe to consume, you may smell or check its texture. If it already has a sour smell and slimy texture, it is best to discard it immediately. Do not taste further to avoid any risk of food poisoning.
Making corned beef may require patience as it requires much time and effort. It needs constant checking once it’s already simmering on the stovetop to maintain the water level inside the pot. Once cooked properly, it is a wonderful dish to serve to your family members or guests, given the effort to make the dish.