I’ve searched for recipes for a store bought, prepared corned beef brisket and found times and temperatures all over the map. 135F for 48 hours was tasty, but just a bit too chewy. 185F for 10 hours just didn’t sound right (though I didn’t try it, so who knows?) I just tried 145F for 48 hours and it came out like mashed potatoes. I mean seriously, I could squeeze it between my fingers and make pâté. It just doesn’t seem possible that this was a case of too hot and/or too long. I’m guessing it was the tenderizer that it was packed in (papain, maybe?).
Which raises the obvious question – how can we possibly trust a store bought corned beef if there’s no ‘standard’ for tenderization? I fully plan to buy a fresh brisket for next St. Patty’s Day and do it right, but there are times when I know I’m going to have a taste for a Reuben in a couple of days (who knows if the urge will last the ten days it takes to do it right?)
I love Sous Vide but Corned Beef Briskets, in my opinion, cook up better in a crock pot. In that case you are looking at LOW setting for 8 hours. I use the brine from the package, spice pack and add one or two bottles of Guinness Stout to float the brisket in a 6 quart crockpot. When you can easily slide a fork into the meat, it is done. Then let it cool, wrap it in foil and let it cool more in the fridge. Slicing is simple when it is cooled. I know some Sous Vide people do Corned Beef Sous Vide. This is my opinion only.
Everyone is going to have a preferred method that achieves the results they enjoy.
Two solutions for getting a ‘trustworthy’ lump of corned beef:
Purchase from a butcher that you can get to know and discuss their cure technique and what they have or have not included in their brine;
Cure your own.
#1 is probably my next step, as I’ll probably learn a thing or two along the way.
#2 is definitely on my list.
I’m thinking that, given Sous Vide’s uncanny ability to break down the connective tissue without help, the papain is redundant, at best, and potentially murderous, as my experience would seem to illustrate. I’ve had crumbled corned beef from the slow cooker (one of the things I’m trying to avoid), but it still had some flavor and what could pass for texture. And it’s great for hash. I’ve never seen anything so totally obliterated as this one, though.
I’ve always done my corned beef in the slow cooker, but the results have never blown me away. The flavor is there, but it either disintegrates into crumbs (too long), or it’s too chewy (not long enough). I was hoping the Sous Vide would give a little more consistency, given that split second timing is not necessary.
I’m going to skip the tenderized version on my next try and see if I can’t improve on the result, though the only way to go from here is up!
BTW, that photo brings tears to my eyes. I can taste that through my monitor.
Curing your own corned beef is easy and SV works great for getting a great texture.
However, it’s one of the dishes the family has forbidden me from SV’ing any more. The smell and anticipation of a corned beef slowly simmering on the stove all afternoon and the flavour the broth gives to the carrots, onions, cabbage and potatoes simmering with it are things they deeply miss when I SV it.
I put two 4-5 pound briskets in the 6 qt. crock pot at once. If they are not fitting by a little, they will shrink and eventually be just fine. Just leave the lid off for an hour or so. With two briskets I use one bottle of Guinness and add some from a second bottle once they are placed to cook… I reserve the remaining Guinness for myself. You want to try and get the briskets submerged as best you can in the beginning.
If you cook LOW for 7 hours and check the tenderness, you will hit the not too well done point. Ours usually take almost 8 hours. Take a dinner fork and if it will go into the brisket easily, it is done. If you try to slice it before cooling, it will crumble more. Wrapped in foil and left for 3 to 4 hours in the fridge will do the job. We usually chill overnight.
I pressure cooked my St. Pat’s Day corned beef, and it came out great. I steamed potatoes, carrots and cabbage separately, because I like their unadorned taste. Nothing fancy is sometimes the best way.
I’ve used the Serious Eats time and temp of 180/10 with great results every time.