Watching your family's caloric intake could lead to repetitive dinners. Despite its reputation as a heavy dish, corned beef belongs on the table even in calorie-conscious households. Commercial corned beef brisket contains 75 calories and 5 g fat per ounce, but you can lower those figures if you prepare, cook and serve the leaner portions of the brisket.
You probably trim steaks and roasts as a matter of course, yet corned beef rarely gets the same treatment. Some cooks like to boil or roast corned beef with its fatty side up so the fat bastes the meat as it renders during cooking, but unlike fresh or aged cuts, cured beef derives almost all of its flavor from brining. Trim excess fat from your corned beef and you'll reduce its calorie count within seconds. Smaller pieces of fat within the meat can stay, but pare away slabs of visible fat on the surface of the beef.
Trimming the fat cuts calories, but when boiling, the marbled fat within the muscle of the meat remains and melts into the water as the corned beef cooks. If you cook vegetables in the same pot, they soak up this fat and the calories it contains, so boil carrots, cabbage, potatoes and onions in another pot and flavor them with a portion of the brisket's brine or with spices that complement corned beef such as whole peppercorns and bay leaves.
Preparing corned beef in the oven's dry heat results in leaner servings if you roast it on a rack. Using an oven rack in your roasting pan keeps the beef out of the fat that cooks out of it, making the portion that you eat lower in calories. Roast the beef with its fat side down so more of the calories wind up in the pan than on the plate. Boil the vegetables to accompany the beef or roast them at the same time in a different roasting pan.
When corned beef is the centerpiece of the meal, surround it with sides and condiments that fit with a low-calorie plan. Help yourself and your family to plenty of cabbage or collards and choose fiery horseradish or light creamy dressing. You can also cast the richly flavored beef in a supporting role. Because of its bold flavor, a little bit of corned beef goes a long way in a cabbage casserole. Load a Reuben with extra sauerkraut or fresh shredded cabbage to go with thinner slices of corned beef, a single slice of flavorful cheese and a thin spreading of light ranch dressing.
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Lauren Whitney covers science, health, fitness, fashion, food and weight loss. She has been writing professionally since 2009 and teaches hatha yoga in a home studio. Whitney holds bachelor's degrees in English and biology from the University of New Orleans.
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