Corned Beef – Not Just For St. Patty’s Day

This week St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of one of my favorite foods — corned beef.

I love the stuff and don’t wait around for St. Patty’s day to cook it — in fact I had a brisket last week.

Corned beef is a delicious meat with a curious name, don’t you think?  Actually I’ve never seen any corn with corned beef, although I think it would probably taste pretty good.

It turns out that corned beef is another way of saying salted beef.  Salting meat was a way of preserving it throughout history before refrigeration.  The British Navy used salted meat extensively back in the 1600′s up through the time of modern refrigeration.

So where does the corn thing come in?  Well, back then the word corn didn’t mean the corn you and I eat today.  It referred to chunks of salt about the size of our modern day corn, and the act of corning beef meant preserving it with these corn size bits of salt.

The salt content is why boiling the corned beef is typically the best way to cook it because the water dilutes out some of the salt.  I’ve tried baking the briskets, and this causes a great enough concentration of salt to give you instant hypertension.

Boiling, however, doesn’t really mean boiling because if you do that the meat will be tough.  You should simmer the meat for a long time.  This causes it to become very tender.

Or for the more impatient, you can cook it the way I do.  I use a pressure cooker.  Pressure cookers are great and I’ve been using them for years without blowing my face off in the process.  If you have not pressure cooked you should try it.

This was your grandmother’s microwave.  The extreme steam pressure cooks and tenderizes the meat very fast.  I have taken a frozen brisket and cooked it to a tender state in 45 to 60 minutes.

And it’s great fun watching the little steam thingy rattling back and forth, spewing steam clouds into the kitchen.  Also good in the winter when the humidity is way too low.

And of course there’s the thrill of a possible explosion.

However you enjoy cooking your corned beef this year, whether pressure cooking adventure style or simmering kitchen wus, here’s wishing you a great St. Patty’s day.

Gotta go because I just found a three leaf clover (four leaf is just too difficult) which is giving me a great excuse for a green beer.

Cheers and Corned Beef Go Bragh – J. Daniel

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