It was popular during both World Wars, when fresh meat was rationed. Corned beef remains popular in the United Kingdom and countries with British culinary traditions and is commonly used in sandwiches, corned beef hash or eaten with chips and pickles. It also remains especially popular in Canada in a variety of dishes, perhaps most prominently Montreal smoked meat.
Although the exact beginnings of corned beef are unknown, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Evidence of its legacy is apparent in numerous cultures, including Ancient Europe and the Middle East. The word corn derives from Old English, and is used to describe any small hard particles or grains. In the case of "corned beef", the word may refer to the coarse granular salts used to cure the beef. The word corned may also refer to the corns of potassium nitrate, also known as saltpetre, which were formerly used to preserve the meat.
In North America corned beef dishes are associated with traditional Irish cuisine. However there is considerable debate about the association of corned beef with Ireland. Mark Kurlansky, in his book Salt, states that the Irish produced a salted beef around the Middle Ages that was the "forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef" and in the 17th century the English named the Irish salted beef "corned beef". Some say it was not until the wave of 18th century Irish immigration to the United States that much of the ethnic Irish first began to consume corned beef dishes as seen today. The popularity of corned beef compared to bacon among the immigrant Irish may have been due to corned beef being considered a luxury product in their native land, while it was cheaply and readily available in America.
In Ireland today, the serving of corned beef is geared toward tourist consumption and most Irish in Ireland do not identify the ingredient as native cuisine.
The Jewish population produced similar koshered cured beef product made from the brisket which the Irish immigrants purchased as corned beef from Jewish butchers. This may have been facilitated by the close cultural interactions and collaboration of these two diverse cultures in the USA's main 19th and 20th century immigrant port of entry, New York City.
In North America, corned beef typically comes in two forms, a cut of beef (usually brisket, but
|Canned corned beef|
Corned beef is often purchased ready to eat in delicatessens. It is the key ingredient in the grilled Reuben sandwich, consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island or Russian dressing on rye bread.
Corned beef hash is commonly served with eggs for breakfast.
Smoking corned beef, typically with a generally similar spice mix, produces smoked meat (or "smoked beef") such as pastrami.
In both the United States and Canada, corned beef is sold in cans in minced form. It is sold this way in Puerto Rico and Uruguay.
In the United States, consumption of corned beef is often associated with Saint Patrick's Day. Corned
|Corned beef on a bagel with mustard|
Corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-American immigrants in the late 19th century. Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish-American variant of the Irish dish of bacon and cabbage. A similar dish is the New England boiled dinner, consisting of corned beef, cabbage, and root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes, which is popular in New England and another similar dish, Jiggs dinner is popular in parts of Atlantic Canada.