In Search Of The Best Corned Beef

This post may be viewed in Again? Really? and Jeffrey Gifford’s excellent blog, Best Corned Beef in Cleveland.

This little adventure began at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. We were at a black tie wedding. Sally, my girlfriend, was wearing a floor length gown. We were there for the groom, her youngest nephew.

This was an Orthodox (traditional) wedding. Most of the guests were present hours before the official ceremony. The groom was busy signing the Ketubah (wedding contract) while the bride was surrounded by friends and relatives in an adjacent room. The guests wandered back and forth between the rooms, celebrating, socializing and, of course, eating.

There were three large bars plus the ever-present wait staff offered glasses of Champagne and white wine. Others were carrying trays of finger food. There were two 12 foot tables of sushi, attractively arranged and all completely Kosher. And in each room near the sushi tables were carving stations.

Please remember that this is all a precursor to the wedding and a fabulous dinner. But you can work up quite an appetite at an Orthodox Jewish wedding, what with all of the music and spontaneous dancing. We grabbed some plates.

I selected a few pieces of sashimi and then met Sally at the carving station. The chef deftly carved a whole turkey and offered slices from the breast. There was also steak and, and something else. Even in the dimly lit room the color was the unmistakable dark pink of CORNED BEEF. But the shape was wrong. It was almost rectangular. Two slices found their way to my plate.

It was corned beef, but it wasn’t brisket. It was, however, warm, incredibly moist, and tender. The flavor was bright with more than the usual hint of pickling. This corned beef needed nothing. Rye bread, mustard, and horseradish were all superfluous. Taste. Texture. Color. My tux and upbringing were the only things keeping me from pulling up a chair right next to that carving station.

Back in town I discussed the corned beef with Boris Mikhi of Boris Kosher Meats. He guessed that it might have been a rib roast. That would be one expensive sandwich. The cut looked an awful lot like a chuck roast that Boris sells as a fish tail roast. He offered to cut, trim, and corn one for me.

Corned Beef Sandwich – My House
Special Corned Beef
Broccoli Slaw

Corned Beef
• 3 ½ pound corned beef fish tail (chuck) roast
• Big pot
• Lot’s of water
• Garlic Powder

Cover the meat with cold water. Throw in a little garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork can be easily inserted all the way through the thickest part.

Simple Broccoli Slaw
• 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw from the grocery store
• 1 thick slice of red onion, chopped
• Marzetti’s Slaw Dressing
• Garlic salt, black pepper, and celery seed

I removed the roast from the water and let it rest 10 minutes. I admired my handiwork as I carefully cut it against the grain. The color was perfect. The texture – excellent. It was delicious. Sally said that it was as good as the Plaza’s, but I think she was feeding my ego while I was feeding her dinner.

Truth – This version is as good, if not better, than any corned beef I’ve had in Cleveland, but it didn’t quite equal the Plaza’s. The texture was close, but not the same. The flavor wasn’t as intense. Both of these issues may be resolved in future attempts.

The best corned beef sandwich in Cleveland could be at YOUR HOUSE. Your butcher is waiting for you. And if you decide to visit Boris, tell him I sent you.