Why do they call it Corned Beef?
But just why do they call it Corned Beef?
Your tastebuds have not been neutered and you are not crazy, there is no corn in Corned Beef. But just why then is it called Corned Beef?
Corned beef is salt-cured beef. The word ‘corn’ is derived from the Germanic word ‘kirnam’ which means ‘small seed’ (‘kernal’ is also the old English word for ‘corn’). The small, coarse granular salts used to preserve the meat became known as corn, thereby giving Corned Beef its name.
While its origins cannot be specifically pinpointed, Corned Beef’s roots can be traced back to Ireland in the 17th century. Salt was a valued commodity in the 17th century and salt taxes imposed by the Irish government were substantially lower than those imposed by the governments of England and France. Because the quality of the salt is almost as important as the quality of the beef when producing high-quality Corned Beef, Ireland was able to create a niche in the market for itself by producing it at an affordable price. Corned Beef became particularly popular at war time because fresh beef was rationed and Corned Beef, as a cured meat, lasted a fairly long time.
Ever wondered why Corned Beef is so pink? It’s because the nitrates in the salt convert the natural myoglobin (an oxygen binding protein in the red blood cells of cows) to nitrosomyoglobin, giving it the pinky hue.
Of course, for the best Corned Beef, don’t limit yourself to a healthy smattering of salt: incorporate mustard, black pepper, coriander seed, allspice and cloves into the rub for the tastiest result. It’s also important to remember to: rinse the meat under cool water for several seconds before cooking otherwise you risk it being too salty; cook the meat over a low heat otherwise you risk it turning out tough and chewy; and, plan to cook Corned Beef properly– it takes between 8 and 10 hours for a three to four pound cut to cook. Don’t rush it!