Two weeks ago, I started a batch of corned beef. As I mentioned, this was a continuation of experiments with fermented foods. I have created sauerkraut and pickled onions using this method, and I figured corned beef would be fun to try. I’ve been checking in on the meat every few days, looking for signs of spoilage (mold, funny smells, etc.) Yesterday, I decided it was time to try cooking and eating the product.
When I opened the contained, it smelled wonderful! I could smell most of the spices, and the garlic had pickled. If you’ve never had pickled garlic before, it’s definitely worth trying! The liquid was a rich brown, with not a spot of mold.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, since corning meat is a technique for preserving it without refrigeration. However, growing up in this age of freezers, I was very cautious with meat that had spent the last two weeks at room temperature. “Corning”, by the way, is a reference to the grains of salt used, which were the shape and size of cereal grains, or “corns”. There is no actual corn involved in the process. In yet another linguistics lesson, “corn” in most forms of English refers to any grain. In the U.S.A, it refers specifically to maize, a term rarely used in the United States, but common just about everywhere else, and all other cereals are referred to as “grains” or “seeds”. Leave it to us to further complicate the English language.
Because I did not use “pink salt”, or sodium nitrate, the meat was darker than is usually associated with corned beef. This is purely aesthetic, and I had read about this effect before I decided to do without the nitrates.
I froze one of the pieces, and prepared the other one that night. I decided not to rinse the first piece, because I did not want to lose the spice flavors that I had spent two weeks getting into the meat. In hindsight, I probably should have rinsed it a little, because it was very salty.
I put the beef into a slow cooker, and added allspice, bay leaves, black pepper, and caraway seeds.
I topped it up with onions, potatoes, and carrots, added enough water to cover the meat,and let it cook on high.
After five hours, I took the vegetables out of the slow cooker, and put them in a pan with a bit of butter and a can of my homemade sauerkraut. I let them cook a bit, and served them with the meat.
The flavor was amazing! I could taste all of the spices, and the sauerkraut pairing made a good play on corned beef and cabbage. This is definitely not a low-sodium food, and I think that next time I will rinse the corned beef before cooking, but it was probably one of the most flavorful meats I’ve had in quite some time. I put the left-over corned beef back into the slow cooker overnight on low, and by the morning the texture had improved significantly. It was a bit tough at dinner, but by morning it was very tender. This is definitely a recipe I will work with in the future!
~The Homesteading Hippy