Today at the Regal Deli, I noted the menu offered both “corned beef” and “extra-lean corned beef.” To me, extra-lean corned beef is a pointless exercise in carnivorism. “I’ll have corned beef on rye,” I told the waitress. “And not extra lean.” This, I thought, would subtly convey to her my disdain for lean corned beef...and would result in a sandwich cut from the deckle.
Sidebar on deckle: Corned beef is made by brining, then steaming, a brisket. A whole brisket runs 10 to 15 pounds and is composed of two muscles: the flat (also called the first cut, the plate) which is thin, rectangular and very lean; and the deckle (also known as the point, the front cut, the second cut), which is fatty, lumpy and irregularly grained. If you’ve bought a brisket in the supermarket, you’ve probably bought the flat, a thin slab of meat that fits nicely into a standard 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
Lean corned beef is sliced from the flat and generally boasts just the faintest frill of fat. Slice the deckle, however, and you have a luxuriant, succulent, moist .?.?. OK, you get a wonderfully fatty sandwich.
So, in ordering a non-extra-lean sandwich, I assumed I’d get one composed of both flat and deckle meat. But you know what happens when you ass-u-me. The sandwich that came was lean lean lean, no less so, it seemed to me, than my friend’s “extra-lean” one. On my way out of Regal I told the gentleman at the cash register that I had told the waitress that I did not want extra lean, and I was surprised that I still got a lean sandwich. Were they cooking whole briskets? Where was the deckle? “We have plenty of deckle,” he told me. “Did you ask for the deckle? You told her you didn’t want extra lean. Did you tell her you wanted it fatty?”
No I didn’t. I should have. I was wrong. He was right. I’ll do better next time.
Regal Deli is at 1110 Old Country Rd., Plainview, 516-938-3588.
Pretty lean corned beef on rye at Regal in Plainview