Corned beef is typically made from the brisket, although bottom round may also be used. The "corning" process is accomplished by curing the meat in a brine made with chunks, or "corns," of rock salt, one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Potassium nitrate, also known as saltpeter, helps the meat retain a pink color.
Although the traditional corn beef boiled dinner is seldom served in Ireland, the Irish were known for producing and distributing corned beef as long ago as the 17th century.
Classic Corned Beef
Corned beef requires slow, moist cooking to retain tenderness. It is often prepared as a boiled or crock pot dinner with carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onions, either on top of the stove, in a slow cooker, or in the oven with about an inch of water. Cloves, thyme, and parsley are among the spices that complement this dish. Horseradish and brown mustard are some favorite corned beef condiments.
Corned Beef Hash
Cooked corn beef can be chopped, blended with cooked potatoes and onions and seasoned- bell pepper and parsley are popular choices- to create corned beef hash. This variety is also available precooked and canned. When prepared in this manner it is a popular breakfast side.
Beef that has been corned using peppercorns, sugar and garlic in the brining mixture and then smoked becomes pastrami, a popular luncheon and deli meat. Pastrami on rye bread with sauerkraut and cheese is the basis of the popular "Reuben" sandwich.