Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Aug 19, 2013 04:28 AM

Corned beef (split from UK board)

Keep in mind corned beef in the UK and Ireland is nothing like what you get in the States. Although we are starting to see some US style corned beef in our better delis. It's not an Irish staple it's an American Irish staple.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wouldnt we usually call American style corned beef, "salt beef"?

    My current food history research indicates that British style corned beef, in tins, was certainly also available in America at the time of the Great War (and before). Presumably, it still is - or it may, of course, fallen out of fashion. What I don't know is if they also called that corned beef.

    26 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Corned beef is a bit confusing in the States. There is what we here would call salt beef and there is also something I've always thought of as an Irish dish... corned beef - usually served with and known as corned beef and cabbage. The two are very diiferent. The non-Jewish style, I think, still comes in cans, John, although it's something I wouldn't have ever purchased. Yuck.

      1. re: zuriga1

        I love the tinned stuff, June. Great on a sandwich (lots of mustard or, alternatively, onion marmalade) - and I make a mean pasty out of it. And that's before we get to Mrs H's hash.

        1. re: zuriga1

          Bit confused -- whats Irish corned beef vs. Jewish?

          1. re: brokentelephone

            Well, you got me there, but I know it tastes different, but maybe that's because of how it's cured, or maybe that's just my taste buds. What I found below mentions brisket as the meat in one form... maybe that's the difference? I just know that we never ate salt beef in NY with cabbage. :-)

            I found this...

            In the United States and Canada, corned beef typically comes in two forms, a cut of beef (usually brisket, but sometimes round or silverside) cured or pickled in a seasoned brine, and canned ('Tinned' in British English) (cooked).
            A corned beef sandwich

            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, usually imported from South America.

            1. re: zuriga1

              Apparently in Australia corned beef refers to silverside (a cut from the back end of the cow with little to no fat), and never brisket.

              From what I can discern from pictures, I've always thought Irish corned beef looked like they only use the flat cut of the brisket (i.e., the lean bit), and Jewish tends to use the whole thing (the point is the fatty end, also known as belly).

              I've read that Irish corned beef (in its current incarnation) is actually a north american phenomenon and was introduced to irish immigrants by jews in nyc, probably due to proximity as recent immigrants to the city.

              1. re: brokentelephone

                We probably know more than we ever wanted to about corned beef. Wiki agrees with your last statements re the immigrants, and that wouldn't surprise me at all.

                There's a huge bit about corned beef on Wiki including:

                The appearance of corned beef in Irish cuisine dates to the 12th century in the poem Aislinge Meic Con Glinne or The Vision of MacConglinne.[17] Within the text, it is described as a delicacy a king uses to purge himself of the "demon of gluttony".

                It goes on to say that the ancient dish is not what's eaten today.

                1. re: brokentelephone

                  The tradition of salt curing was used by the Irish prior to immigration - but not on cuts of beef due to the expense. Similarly Jewish corned beef is a similar US immigrant phenomenon. Who was first in the US - I have no clue - but the biggest influence was the abundance of cheap meat in the US compared to prices from Europe.

                  1. re: cresyd

                    Could you please expand on that a bit further, cresyd?

                    You appear to be saying that it only became practical to preserve the beef by salting because it was cheap in the US. But, I would have thought, it was more important to preserve a scarcer (more expensive) product than one which was cheap and readily available, I suspect I'm missing something here. The salting of pork, by way of preservation was, of course well established in Europe - in the form of salamis, etc in the southern countries and as bacon and ham here in the north.

                    By the by, my current research interest (for a book I'm writing) is about the tinned product. In the 1870s, the UK started to import tinned beef from South America (our most well known brand remains Fray Bentos, after the town in Uruguay) and shortly after, the major British company, Vestey's, set up a canning factory in Chicago, presumably for the American market. It was not until the 1890s, that the development of refrigerated ships permitted the import of fresh beef to the UK.

                    1. re: Harters

                      The cheapness is in reference to the fact that for the mentioned immigrant communities (eastern European Jewish and Irish), in their home countries beef was essentially priced beyond them and an incredibly rare dish. Therefore the preparation of salting - while done - was done with pork in Ireland, and in both Irish and Jewish communities was just a much less frequent "player" in the cuisine.

                      On arriving to the US, the cost of meat was so much lower than for the Irish it meant that corned beef was a financial possibility - but it also allowed from the prominence of the dish to grow. Instead of being a very rare dish served in small quantities, cuisines changed where meat could become a far more prominent feature (in both size of portion and regularity of serving).

                      So my statement wasn't so much about preserving meat only happening after it became cheaper - but rather the presence and abundance changed cultural eating traditions. Corned beef and cabbage became an Irish dish, and spaghetti with meatballs becomes Italian.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        Thanks for that. Understand your point better, now.

                    2. re: cresyd

                      I sure wish my grandparents were around to tell me what they did eat in the way of meat in Eastern Europe. I found this which seems to say Jewish people were eating cured meat in the 'old country.'

                      Among the Jewish community in Europe, it developed parallel to the development of cured pork or ham among the non-Jewish Europeans, as way to preserve valuable meat from the annual slaughter. Since religious Jews are not allowed to eat pork, cured beef was a mainstay of the diet.

                      1. re: zuriga1


                        You find a lot of salted beef in high northern Italy -- carne salada -- which is eaten by everybody. It is possible that it dates back to Roman times, but it is also possible that it accompanied a significant in-migration of Jews from Spain at the time of the inquisition, who came in through the port of Genova and Livorno, but generally kept going, heading north.

                        But what you also find in some parts of Italy is that goose and duck were salted by the Jewish community to create salume and prosciutto that got around the pork restriction. Salted beef is only found in the very few areas of Italy with great grazing lands for cows (the alps and their foothills), whereas as cured duck and goose tend to be isolated relics of another era, found mainly in the Piemonte rice fields and the Po river valley crossing central Italy.

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          Thanks for the interesting information, barberinbee. I'd never seriously thought about the Italian connection. Many Spanish and Portuguese Jews (the Sephardim) also went to the Netherlands, but I really don't know what customs followed them there when it comes to the food realm. FWIW, I'm Jewish.

                          1. re: zuriga1

                            I think everyone is over complicating it. Salting meat and fish was common across Europe for all religions and nationalities - from bacon, to salt cod, to salt beef.

                            The Europeans were empire builders and their armies and navies carried preserved rations with them including salted meat. When canning was invented the salted meat was canned to preserve it for longer - and "bully beef" was born i.e. boiled salt beef in a can.

                            The Europeans spread these rations across the world to the Caribbean, on to the Americas (not just the North) and to Australia.

                            The earliest settlers salted their meat to preserve it as well - refrigeration did nor exist. So immigrant communities - the Irish, Jewish, English, Protestants etc etc all salted beef.

                            Salted beef from Ireland was political as it was the English that farmed the land to produce beef (and Corn) and not feed the Irish - in fact they produced the beef to trade across the world (including as part of the slave trade). The Potato famines (the only crop the poor Irish could afford) caused the big waves of Irish migration. And so no doubt when they got to the US they simply ate beef rather than potatoes because they could - and the "traditional" Irish salt beef was born.

                            1. re: PhilD

                              When we're talking about immigrant communities in the US during the periods when the Irish came in large number and then Jewish settlers - we're talking about nearly equivalent refrigeration options as Europe. But you do see changes in how ethnic food is translated because in the 19th century in the US meat was dramatically cheaper than it was in Europe. In particular, beef was far more accessible for all socioeconomic classes. So instead of seeing beef once a month or a few times a year, it would be seen more frequently.

                          2. re: barberinibee

                            "Goose bacon" is really quite tasty.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      Wow - that *was* an old thread... but a helpful one where the differences in corned beef are concerned. It sure went off on tagents about ethnic similarities and differences.

                      1. re: zuriga1

                        Yeah - i figured instead of trying to remember or rehash, the link would best serve the purpose.

                        Ultimately, corned beef (be it Irish or Jewish American) is most strongly tied to 19th century immigration to the US and discovering much cheaper meat than a specific cultural background.

                2. re: Harters

                  I think the OP means Roast Beef if its with Yorkshire Pudding not salt beef at all a totally different proposition no matter it's nationality.

                  I wonder if it was cayenne in the Vindaloo it's not the usual heat source - remember vindaloo is meant to be very hoy and spicy - so a good one should be a challenge.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I knew just simply saying "corned beef" was just asking for a mini debate.
                    Truth be told I'm really missing a USA burger with blue cheese, but since I'm in the UK a few roast beef or chicken meals would be a real treat.
                    For 5 years I lived on a mostly raw tuna diet, fresh vegetables well forget it, and if you want some bread made without either shortening or a lot of sugar in it, well I baked it myself.
                    As far as Indian goes, I'm happy to be wrong, but I love 'Indian Hot' curries and spicy food, I love how the eye well up with tears. This however was a different species.

                    Hmmm maybe I'm just super picky, does that happen? One year you like 'all foods apart form liquorice and the next year you have to make all salad dressings from scratch?'

                    On a massive plus I had my first experience of Ethiopian food while in Manchester. I just loved the injera (bread) and the whole eating with your hands.

                    I have an itinerary for the next week that I'll post tomorrow in the hopes of getting some ideas for meals on the road.

                    1. re: snax

                      I assume your Ethiopian was at Habesha (can't think of another in the Rainy City). We went in 2011. Thought it fine but never felt the need to go back.


                      1. re: snax


                        There is presently an ongoing global burger craze, so a simple google search of "best burgers in Glasgow" (ditto Edinburgh, London) will give you lots to consider if your mood holds.

                        Lebowski's, with branches in Glasgow and Edinburgh, lets you customize a burger with blue cheese


                        1. re: barberinibee

                          Lebowskis do a good burger but I find the service poor. Cocktail and Burger, Meat Bar and Burger Meats Buns are all doing nice things but my current favourite, by a long way, is Meathammer at Nice n Sleazy's. Just about the best burgers I've ever had. The guy is a bit a of a mad meat genius.


                        2. re: snax

                          Depending on where you're from might be worth trying the new Shake Shack in Covent Garden.