Saturday, October 3, 2009

Corned Beef

Dinner last night was cabbage, parsley buttered potatoes, and corned beef. Have you ever thought about the name? The term "corned" beef comes from the English use of the word "corn," meaning any small particle (such as a grain of salt).

Often a brisket is the cut of choice, but other inexpensive cuts, like round or chuck, can be used. The key is curing the beef with a mixture salt, sugar and the pink salts: sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.

It is the last that gives corned beef and pastrami its pink color. Pastrami is just corned beef that has been rubbed with a spice mixture and smoked.

So what is the big deal about this dinner? This time I cured the beef myself. The Morton salt company sells a mix for home curing. There are two advantages to doing it yourself. The first is that smaller cuts of meat can easily be cured. And secondly, you are in control from the very beginning. You can spice it just the way you like it.

I think I'll try some bacon next.

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