Every year when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around we are flooded with questions about corned beef. Because my background is mostly Polish and German, I didn’t really understand what the big fuss was about. This year, I decided to dig a little deeper and research this delicious meal. I found this very interesting article from from the History channel titled, Corned Beef and Cabbage: As Irish as Spaghetti and Meatballs. The article talks about the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City in 1762 and how Irish immigration skyrocketed over the next 100 years. With it came new food traditions such as, Irish stew and soda bread. The Irish brought their love for pork, especially a cut of smoked pork loin, they called Irish bacon (similar to our Canadian bacon) but at that time in America pork was pricey. They began cooking beef instead and found that corned (brined or cured) beef had a similar flavor to their bacon and a tradition was born.
When I was younger I thought that corned beef was a piece of meat covered in corn meal.My imagination ran wild and I pictured a beef roast covered in a corn muffin. Silly, I know, but children have big imaginations and I wasn’t about to try beef in a muffin. As I grew up and learned more about cooking, I realized that the term “corned” referred to brining a cut of meat in large grain rock salt, like celtic sea salt, and water. This salt is jam packed full of extra minerals and trace minerals our bodies need. Soaking a lean cut of meat in salt like this not only adds extra nutrients but it helps to tenderize it.
If you are looking to make your own corned beef, you have a couple of options. Most corned beef is made using the lean and flavorful beef brisket. You can choose to brine your own brisket by following this recipe from the Food Network and Alton Brown. They provide a list of ingredients needed to make your own brine along with instructions to prepare the brisket. You have to let that brisket brine for 10 days! Wow! That is a long time, you better start right away if you want to enjoy one of our grass fed beef briskets for St. Patrick’s Day. If you do decide to create your corned beef from scratch you will need to follow Alton Brown’s recipe or a crock pot recipe like this one from Family Fresh Meals. The crock pot option is my personal favorite and this recipe even includes a homemade spice mixture.
Another option is to purchase a pre-brined brisket. Purchasing a brisket that has already been brined will allow you to jump right to the fun part, cooking! This awesome Paleo / Whole 30 inspired recipe from Fit Slow Cooker Queen has beautiful pictures and easy to follow instructions on how create a delicious corned beef and cabbage dinner in your crock pot. This year we are offering both types of briskets. You can purchase a John Henry’s grass fed brisket or a prepackaged and pre-brined brisket that is MSG/Gluten Free.
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