You’ve had it in hash, seen it on sandwiches, and you may have even enjoyed a slice or two last St. Patrick’s Day, but, what actually is corned beef? Read on to learn more about how this delicious ingredient got its unique name and discover a variety of our favorite corned beef recipes.  

No corn was used in making this beef… 

“Corning” is a little bit of an outdated term, but before refrigeration corning was a form of preservation. Corning is a form of salt curing meat, a technique used to preserve and prevent spoilage by coating cuts in an ample amount of salt. The name “corning”, actually refers to the extra large salt pellets that were used at the time, some the size of corn kernels. 

Modern Making of Corned Beef 

Now that refrigeration is a way of life, corned beef has gone through a slight modernization. Modern corned beef is typically made using a popular, albeit tough, cut, the brisket. Instead of a packed, dry, salt cure, the brisket is submerged in a salty seasoned brine. The brisket, after days of soaking, is made more tender by the brine, and tender-still, after cooking. There are some gourmands that would like to reclassify this recipe to something a little more telling about the curing process by calling it “pickled beef”, instead of corned beef. If you’d like to take a crack at this process at home, click here to learn how to make corned beef at home. 

Classic and Creative Uses for Corned Beef 

Corned beef is now a staple at deli counters and, depending on the time of year, available pre-brined for your home cooking enjoyment. This convenience opens up a variety of creative ways to prepare and serve corned beef. 

For a more classic approach, we recommend this recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage with Irish Butter Potatoes. For those that are fans of the breakfast counter-staple, give this recipe for Corned Beef Hash a try. If you’re in an adventurous mood (or, just a big fan of the Reuben sandwich), this recipe will soon become your new favorite: Reuben Style Pork Chops.

Feature Image: Flickr user larryjh1234 ( CC BY 2.0 )

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