Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Corned beef: the other not white meat.

Dear Tricia, I am very proud of my irish heritage, but what kind of self-respecting Irishman doesn't know how to make corned beef? What makes corned beef corned? With St. Patrick's day only a few months away I'm
starting to freak out a little bit because my rigorous drinking schedule precludes me from much cooking. I can't just serve potatoes again this year! Help me out here.

Well, my Irish friend, I've found some helpful info for you. Let's get down to business. First of all, corned beef is usually a brisket (but sometimes a round roast... all hail the mighty rump roast!) that is pickled (or "cured") in a brine. A brine is a very salted, seasoned liquid. That's what they also do to bacon. So, the brisket gets soaked in the brine and then cooked. The Oxford dictionary defines "corn" as a small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt. So "corned" refers to the grains of salt used to cure it. Those pesky Brits; so pompous with their fancy pants vocabulary. You can also take the corned beef one step further and smoke it. That's what pastrami is. You almost always will buy corned beef already cooked so all you have to do is slice it and serve.
Wanna know the history of it? Too bad you don't have a choice: continue reading. When Irish immigrants came to New York, the lower east siders decided that they wanted a cured meat that was similar in taste and texture to their beloved Irish bacon. So they learned a cheaper alternative from their friendly Jewish neighbors and started using corned beef instead. (insert politically incorrect Jewish joke here.)
St. Patty's Day always happens during Lent, and if you were raised Catholic (like I was, which is why I'm the furthest thing from Catholic as an adult) you know that you're not allowed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. However, if St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday during Lent, some bishops will pardon your heathen ways. It's rare: the next St. Patrick's Day on a Friday during Lent won't happen for another 9 years. In the mean time, enjoy your corned beef and Irish Car Bombs and green shirts and pinching. If you can slice up a corned brisket and serve it as a sandwich, I think your party guests will be content. All they're looking for is a sponge for all their alcohol anyways, right?

No comments: