Real corned beef is not some mystery meat that comes out of a can. I discovered that way back in high school. We were staying at my uncle’s house once, my uncle was not a great cook, but the one dish that he did exceptionally well was corned beef smothered with mushroom sauce.
The corn beef he used was like ham, bought as a cold meat, which he sliced thinly then heated gently with undiluted Campbell’s mushroom soup. It’s not really cooking — it’s cold meat and canned soup, for heaven’s sake — but it was delicious.
What is corned beef?
Corned beef is salt-cured beef. The “corned” part is more historical than literal because corn, in olden times and before the word was used by English-speaking cultures to describe maize, “corned” denotes grains of salt used for curing.
Is corned beef a healthy food?
Not for people who have problems with sodium. Corned beef contains a lot of salt which the meat absorbs during the brining process. You can’t get rid of that salt because the brine and brining are what makes corned beef so darn flavorful. Minus the salty brine, it’s just beef.
What makes real corned beef expensive?
The price of the beef brisket, the spices you add to the brine, the brining process and the lengthy cooking are what make real corned beef expensive.
Brine? Brining? Yes and yes. We make corned beef at home so let me just describe the brine and brining in a homemade corned beef recipe.
Make the brine
- Place all the ingredients, except the beef, in a pot. Pour in six cups of water. Boil until the salt and sugar dissolve. Cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge for an hour.
Brine the beef brisket
- Rinse the beef and wipe. Place in a container large enough to make sure that the meat is in a single layer. Pour in the brine to completely cover the meat.
- Cover the container in put in the fridge. Cure the beef for ten days.
Slow cook the corned beef
- Rinse the beef under the tap well.
- Put the beef in the slow cooker and cover with cold water.
- Add whatever aromatics you like. Onion or leeks, garlic, carrot, celery are the basic things.
- Cook on HIGH for two hours then switch to LOW and cook for another three hours.
- Scoop out the corned beef, cool and slice.