Tuesday, March 10, 2009

pressing question: is there corn in corned beef?

so, i've been wondering for a while what corned beef is exactly. i have to admit that i was really hoping it had nothing to do with corn!
here's the deal.
corned beef usually starts with a beef brisket and is cured in a spiced brine and then boiled and prepared in whatever way you see fit, like in a stew, hash, or reuben sandwich!
"corn" actually refers to the coarse grains of salts used in curing the meat (yay! i love salt.)
this meat is most often found at your deli counter and used to make sandwiches, but it sure sounds like a tasty project for st. patrick's day. just make sure you start it .. well, i guess you should have started it a few days ago, but you can still plan to have a guinness-fest and tasty beef feast the weekend after st. patty's to assure you have proper meat-curing time!

most of the recipes i've looked at start with an 8-10lb beef brisket, rinsed and rubbed with a combination of spices (usually salt, pepper, garlic, sugar, and whatever else you have around--paprika, cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, ginger, etc.)

next, a brine is prepared with warm water and saltpeter, a chemical nitrate. (if that sounds sketchy for at-home cookery, any coarse kosher salt will do, but supposedly your corned beef won't be as pink as expected.) place your seasoned hunk-o-beef in the brine and toss it in the fridge for 10-14 days, turning meat every 2-3 days.

after your curing time has passed, toss the brine and put your brisket in fresh cold water and boil. repeat 3x. then boil it once more for 2 hours or so. then eat.

here's the full recipe and some fun ideas for prep.

and if you're ambitious and inspired to ferment, try making some homemade sauerkraut to go with. mmm, tasty goodness.
but hey, if you don't have the time to put into making it yourself, at least make sure you have one of these next tuesday!

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