How you slice your meat can actually make the difference between an enjoyable meal and one that is just plain hard to chew. When you're making corned beef, make sure to cut it against the grain so that it's tender.
Corned beef is made from the muscle of a cow, and that muscle is formed with a variety of fibers that are attached together. When you slice against the grain in your corned beef recipe, you're shortening these fibers, which makes the meat more tender after cooking and easier to chew.
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1. Look for the Fibers
Place the cooked piece of corned beef on a large cutting board. Make a small incision along one end of the corned beef. Then pull the meat apart, using a fork if necessary, to see which way the grain fibers of the meat run.
2. Position the Meat
Arrange the piece of corned beef on the cutting board so the fibers of the meat are situated diagonally to your body.
3. Trim Away the Fat
Use a sharp knife to trim away the fat around the edges of the corned beef. You don't want to eat the fat because it contains a lot of saturated fat — and too much can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Removing the fat before slicing the meat is easier than trying to cut it off of each individual slice of corned beef.
Using a sharp knife makes it easier to slice your corned beef, which in turn makes the meat more tender. Don't use a serrated knife because it may tear the meat, causing stringy corned beef, which won't be as tender.
4. Slice Against the Grain
To help prevent stringy corned beef, cut the meat at right angles to the direction of the grain. Cutting the meat into thin slices is another way to shorten the muscle fibers and help make the meat more tender than it would be with thicker slices.
If you notice that you're cutting with the grain, reposition the corned beef and try again — this way you can avoid ruining the entire piece of meat.
Tips for a Corned Beef Meal
Try slow-cooking your corned beef — the slow cooker helps to tenderize the meat, according to PennState Extension. You should still slice slow-cooked corned beef against the grain, though, to retain that tender texture.
Add vegetables to your dish for a one-pot meal. Place veggies, such as potatoes and carrots, on the bottom of the slow cooker. These take longer to cook and need to be closer to the heat source, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.
Use thin slices of corned beef to make sandwiches or smother the meat in low-sodium gravy. Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours for another tasty meal. You can eat cooked corned beef within three to four days, or freeze it for two to three months, as advised by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.