St. Patrick's Day is almost here and with it comes our annual love of all things Irish. Corned Beef and green...er...beverage specials will light up local menus and parties. I'm totally fine with this and we take this opportunity to serve Corned Beef, cabbage, potatoes and the like in the Dining Hall. Honestly, I like to make corned beef for the leftovers (I mean "unused portions"). Corned beef hash and griddled potatoes topped with a fried Clark Farms egg is just about the perfect breakfast in my opinion.
Of course, corned beef is about as Irish as cheese dip is Mexican but at least it's traditional. The term corned beef comes from Old World Great Britain. A "corn" was a general term for anything of a certain size (typically the size of a wheat kernal). "Corns" of salt helped preserve the beef. Truthfully, beef wasn't the most popular "corned" product in Ireland. Cows were used primarily for their milk and the cheese made from that milk, as well as their strength in the fields that grew the real Irish staple- potatoes. Pigs were the most prolific animal raised soley for food. Ham or bacon (also preserved by salt) are more authentic Irish proteins. In fact, using brisket for corned beef is traced back to Irish immigrating to the U.S. and buying beef, which was cheaper in America, from Kosher butchers. It could be said that corned beef is not an Irish dish as much as it is a Kosher dish.
But who am I to let something like authenticity get in the way of a celebration of food? Corned beef and cabbage are served readily in Ireland now, especially around St. Patrick's Day. Tourists buy it by the platter full. So dance a jig, wear is shimmering shamrock and grab a few tender slices of briny brisket. We all are Irish March 17th!
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