17 March 2010

saint patrick's day query

this morning i am at work where saint patrick's day fervor is high. what exactly is corned beef anyway, i ask a colleague who's clad in green from head to toe. it's ham, she tells me. then why is it called beef? i inquire. she does not know, but goes on to tell me how it's cooked with cabbage and her family always has it for saint patrick's day dinner.

later in the afternoon, i am at an establishment that prides itself on its irish food, drink, and music. what exactly is corned beef anyway, i ask the waiter with a brogue as thick as peat. it's bacon, says he. then why is it called beef? i ask. and what is corned? he does not know but goes on to make small talk about the saint patrick's day festivities happening at the place.

so i ask of you: what exactly is corned beef? and what does corned mean? whether you know the answers or not, i hope you had some fun on saint patrick's day!

41 comments:

Truth Ferret said...

Corned beef refers to a particular style of brine-cured beef. The "corn" in corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of corn, meaning "small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt." Potassium nitrate (saltpeter) is often added to the brine to help preserve the beef's pink color.

Hopes this helps to answer your questions.

Top of the morning and the rest of the day to ye, too.

kanmuri said...

Here is what wikipedia has to say about corned beef: Corned beef refers to a particular style of brine-cured beef. The "corn" in corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of corn, meaning "small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt." Potassium nitrate (saltpeter) is often added to the brine to help preserve the beef's pink color.

April said...

I asked the same question today (I'm not a meat eater, really). My hubsand, cooking it as I type, says it's "brine cured beef." I googled it and the term 'corned' comes from the corns, or grains or coarse salt, used to cure it.

Hmph, news to me!

Trudi said...

I don't know, but I had some at work today and it was awful! Oh well...to each his own.
Happy St. Patrick's day to you!

chris said...

truth ferret, kanmuri & april: thanks for the quick replies. i understand the "corn" reference now.

trudi: it feels un-irish of me, but i am not a fan of corned beef and cabbage either - maybe if it was ham or bacon, i'd feel better about it!

The Green Stone Woman said...

I tried corned beef once and thought it was awful, but then I'm a 100% Dutch, so maybe that accounts for it.

middle child said...

Um,... well, I can't eat that even though I like it once a year. The second to the last time it made me sick. The 3rd time I wanted to go to the hospital.

Judy said...

I work part time at a nursing home and they served corned beef today. If you think it's bad in a restaurant, try it in a nursing home where none of the kitchen help knows what it is or how to prepare it. I ate out. We also had green popcorn that left everyone's tongue green. And then there were the green cup cakes and green peanut butter sandwiches. And the maintenance guy painted the door to the nurse's station green and everyone got green paint on their hands. Thank goodness this only happens once a year.

Lexi said...

I always thought it was beef and not pork?

However it is delicious to say the least. :)

Cassie said...

I married a man who loves his corned-beef hash and his corned-beef briskett with cabbage. I've made corned beef once in the crockpot and threw in some guiness and it turned out good. The unfortunate thing about corned beef from what I've gathered is for it to taste better and be a non-rubbery consistancy you have to buy a fattier cut.

Try corned-beef hash in a can. I can't believe I am saying that. lol. Cook it really well and serve it with some eggs. It's pretty good.

Ershad said...

Looks delicious. It looks like parata which is famous in South East Asia. Thanks

The Everyday Mum said...

Corned beef is delicious, provided its cooked correctly. It's a regular in our house. I cook it in my slow cooker (filled half way up the meat with water, 1 chopped carrot, 1 onion halved, 2 bay leaves and plenty of pepper). I cook it on low for at least 12 hours, sometimes 15! It falls apart with tenderness. We have it with salad in summer, and vegies in white sauce in winter. It is definitely NOT ham or bacon!! It's cured beef.

Rose West said...

That's really funny about the different answers you got! You might like to check this article out:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Everything-You-Didnt-Want-to-Know-About-Corned-Beef

patti said...

yeah I had my token portion of corn beef and cabbabge yesterday, too.. not a big fan but just trying to keep the tradition..

Lost Girl said...

I am from Australia and here corned beef is made from silverside and generally it is simply referred to as silverside.. it tastes really good with a creamy sauce

Tabor said...

Corned beef is too salty for my tastes as I try to eat healthy. Of course, that doesn't stop me from eating a nice slice of Virginia ham!

Danielle said...

I always find it funny to hear of people eating corned beef and cabbage on st. patricks day. I'm Irish, born and bred ... and I have *never* eaten corned beef and cabbage on st. patricks day! Ever! I don't know anyone who does. I talked to some friends about it yesterday to see if perhaps I had missed something, and no ... noone I know eats it or knows anyone that eats it. We simply cannot understand it! :) Anyone I know celebrates st. patrick with a fry ... a good ol' Ulster fry complete with a beautiful array of fine Irish bread! :)

Grover said...

yle of brine-cured beef. The "corn" in corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of corn, meaning "small hard particle, a

Grover said...

Corned beef refers to a particular style of brine-cured beef. The "corn" in corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of corn, meaning "small hard particle, a grain

nobodybutme said...

I once cooked "bulalo" in a pressure cooker. since it was still a calf, not a cow, we ate what looked to me like a corned beef, in cabbage and leeks. my guess? that was a corned beef!

Stacey said...

To be properly enjoyed, it must be properly cooked. The only time I have actually liked it was when a neighbor of ours cooked it on the grill for something like 10 hours after he marinated it for 24 hours. It was salty buy delicious.

Mz. Candy said...

My St. PAtty's day question yesterday wasy, "who came up with the whole wearing red if you want to be kissed?". I don't get it??

Grace Givenz said...

I am not Irish, but my mama served corned beef when I was growing up in a dish she called "New England Boiled Dinner." So I always thought it was something eaten in New England. It is still one of my favorite meals!

Kay said...

I actually like corned beef but since there is no one home anymore to cook for..I don't cook it. But I love corned beef hash from a can..true it is a years worth of sodium..but with an egg..yummy. I also like creamed corned beef over toast, well...my arteries just clogged with the thought..eating yogurt and salads today!!!

J.S.M. said...

Remember that in days gone by meat was expensive and with no refrigeration salt was the main way to store meats.The part of the animal corned beef comes from is tough so boiling was a way to moisten the meat up. I love it and we always have a large gathering to enjoy around St. Patricks Day.

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greybeard said...

uh oh now we have to find out what silverside is or at least how it got its name?
I love corned beef, esp. with cabbage but it does need to be a fattier cut of meat.

joanna said...

it's NOT what the irish eat for St. Patrick's Day. it's completely american. Boston irish to be exact and now it's spread all over the country. the curing was done on many types of meats which were shipped across the ocean before refrigeration and corned beef is the last of it's kind. the type i love is actually Jewish, with spices, which is pretty much what you get if you buy a corned beef sandwich in a deli. brisket (not corned) is a very popular cut of meat in Texas. my mother made the best corned beef and she taught me to always cook the vegetables (cabbage, potato and carrots) in the water the corned beef was cooked in. i love it and look forward to it every year. it's strange how many people don't know about something like that.

Kisma said...

I have never been a fan, but loved the history lesson.

We had traditional Shepard pie and some yummy drinks as well as took in some local pub that played some great Irish music.

Kristina Graber said...

I just heard today that corned beef and cabbage is not actually an Irish meal. It was a meal eaten quite a bit by Irish immigrants in the United States because it was very inexpensive.

Donna said...

I didn't know the answer to your question until I read everyone's comments. I love your blog! I always thought that corned beef was because the cattle were corn fed. lol I do however like to eat corned beef from a can with eggs for breakfast occassionally.

Aurelia said...

Well people have already replied with the correct answer, as wikipedia says: it's a brine-cured beef, the corns refer to the grains of coarse salt used to cure it.

No idea where your colleage got the idea that it was ham! But must have been the same place the waiter got his information from that it was bacon lol!

As far as I know corned beef originated from here in the UK, not Ireland, but it isn't something that's associated with St.Patrick's Day at all over here though. So that's a new one to me! We just stick to the traditional St.Patrick's Day drinking ;)

Garrrett Mahon said...

corned-beef is awesome you should try it haha.
If you did, did you like it?

Anna said...

Here in England, corned beef is something bought and eaten cold. Nothing like a nice corned beef sandwich with a bit of English mustard, yum!

April Van Tassell said...

Well, I learned something today! Thanks for the "query"!

Mimi said...

I agree with previous commenters- I'm Irish too, and would never eat corned beef on St. Patrick's Day.
Bacon and cabbage, maybe.
This St. Patrick's Day I had tapas and Cava, after the parade.

Terri said...

In the UK and Ireland corned beef is pressed cooked minced beef thats quite fatty and usually sliced cold and put in a sandwich. You can buy it from the deli counter or in cans. It's usually produced in Argentina.

It's bacon that the Irish eat - a bacon joint (sometimes called a ham joint) not the sliced stuff. Traditionally its boiled in a huge cauldron of a pot with the potatoes and cabbage in with it.

I prefer to bake mine in the oven with a little water. served with dry mashed spuds, (don't add cream or milk, just butter and salt and pepper) and just boil the cabbage very briefly.

Its funny that most Americans think they should eat corned beef for St patricks when they have no idea what it actually is or that it's not remotely Irish.

Anonymous said...

its beef.....thats corned of course

Jazzy said...

Actually corned beef is thus:
When the calves are weaned, they are exclusively fed corn. It gives their muscle a different texture due to the proteins available.The curing is also a true fact... but lack at the composition of the meat itself as compared to normal beef. Texture, lack of fats, the way it pieces. Its a combination of pre-medidated strict diet of corn and then the curing process. I learned that in livestock production methods(and I thought that class was a waste)

Wrytagirl said...

My daughter was born on St Patricks day, and last year she celebrated her 21st birthday in Ireland. What a treat! Truth Ferret beat me to the 'corned beef' answer. Its popular here in NZ...and commonly referred to as a pot roast.

Eric Strange said...

can anyone confirm if a particular cut of beef is used? I always hear that it was the cut taken fronm the neck of the cow, which was why it had a more grainy, and fatty quality to it. I'v enjoyed t for years and it is a good alternative to making bean dishes when you do not want to use bacon to falavor the pot.

Full of Nargles said...

Hey I'm so glad you asked this. I have been meaning to check this out and keep forgetting. Thanks! And yes, looks yum! :)