The English word corn for maize or grain used to denote – similar to German – a piece of grain, such as one made from salt. Corned beef is grained, i.e., salted meat, but historically every salted meat was named that way, regardless of which animal it came from. When you talk about corned beef today, you usually mean the well-known, rectangular tinned meat that has been chopped, salted, and then cooked to gel into a solid block. In this article, we read about How to cook corned beef?
In the Anglo-American region, corned beef is also freshly prepared. The result no longer has much to do with the canned product of the same name but somewhat resembles the pastrami that is now also common in our country. Making fresh corned beef is very easy, and the effort is limited. You have to allow for a good week for curing, but investing this time is worth it, as you will be rewarded with a real delicacy in the end.
Ingredients and preparation to cook corned beef
Long-fiber beef is suitable for corned beef, and brisket is ideal. It is considered a “base” item and is accordingly cheap. For the curing rake, boil salt and sugar with spices in water. Optionally you can add curing salt. The meat has to stay in the cooled brine for 7-10 days, then wash it off and cook it with fresh herbs and root vegetables until soft.
Curing salt to cook corned beef
The controversial curing salt is ultimately called nitrite curing salt and is a mixture of table salt and 0.5% potassium or sodium nitrite. While the desired dehydration of the meat during curing also works with pure table salt, the nitrite ensures the rich red color of the corned beef (and countless sausage products from your butcher’s shop), which is commonly regarded as pretty, by making a connection with the muscle pigment myoglobin and stabilizes the reddening of the meat during cooking.
In short: without curing salt, your corned beef will be gray – if you can live with it, leave it out. The taste will be minimally affected by it. In the first picture above, you can see the effect on closer inspection: The meat’s core has not turned red properly because the curing time was at the bottom of 7 days, and the nitrite obviously could not “work through” entirely during this period.
In the kitchen
Freshly prepared corned beef has a dry and inimitably crumbly consistency. It tastes cautiously salty, slightly sweet, and highly aromatic and full thanks to the added spices.
- In the simplest case, cut it cold or warm into slices that are not too thick and serve something acidic, for example, pickles or other pickles.
- The Reuben Sandwich, famous in the US, combines corned beef with sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and melted cheese. In my opinion, the last two ingredients are very tough on poor meat, but the connection with sauerkraut is excellent. The same applies to white cabbage in other preparations; it is no coincidence that corned beef and cabbage is a feast in many regions.
- The fact that canned corned beef is generally used for North German Labskaus shouldn’t prevent you from taking fresh one instead.
Corned beef Recipe
2 kg beef brisket
Spice mix to cook corned beef
- 1.5 teaspoons mustard seeds, white or brown
- 1.5 tsp black peppercorns
- 12 cloves
- Twelve allspice grains
- 12 juniper berries
- Six green cardamom pods
- Two bay leaves, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
For the brine to cook corned beef
- 2/3 of the above spice mixture
- 180 g of salt
- 100 g of brown sugar
- One stick of cinnamon, roughly crumbled
- optional: 3–4 teaspoons of nitrite curing salt
- 2 liters of water
For the brew
- Remaining 1/3 of the above spice mixture
- 3–4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 150 g carrots, roughly diced
- 150 g celery, roughly diced
- One medium-sized onion, roughly diced
- For the spice mixture, roast all the spices except ginger powder in a pan without adding any fat until they have a smell that cannot be smelled. Coarsely pound in a mortar and mix with ginger powder.
- Heat two-thirds of the spice mixture, cinnamon, salt, and sugar with 2 liters of water. As soon as the salt and sugar have completely dissolved, remove the brine from the heat, let it cool down, and stir in the curing salt if desired. Place the meat in the brine. Ideally, the container is sized so that the brine covers the heart – a freezer bag is also suitable—cover and chill for at least 7, better ten days. If the meat is not entirely covered with brine, turn it in once a day.
- When the curing time is over, remove the meat from the brine and wash it off. Discard the brine. Put the remaining third of the spice mixture, garlic, carrots, celery, and onions, with the meat in a saucepan that is not too wide and covers with cold water. Heat and cook the meat on the lowest heat for 2-3 hours until it is soft.
- Corned beef is warm or cold but cut across the grain.
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