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Friday, July 20, 2012 5:04 PM
What is Corned Beef? Corned beef is usually corned silverside - a cut from the hind leg of the animal - or corned brisket, the rolled and pickled beef belly, pickled in salt brine. The corning technique has changed considerably since the invention of the refrigerator and also from improved knowledge of food science and technology, although many handed-down and around old recipes do not take into account the more modern production of corned meats.
In the past coarse unrefined salt containing sodium nitrate (saltpetre) was used, but today much less salt is used, with less than the regulatory maximum limits of sodium nitrite which produces the gentle pink colour of cooked corned meats and the flavour we love. Corned meats are vacuum packed; the small quantity of brining solution remaining ensures flavour and moisture retention.
Cooking Corned or Pickled Meats
Slow cooking is essential, so simmer softly in a well-flavoured stock (bay leaves, orange peel, onion cloves etc) to ensure tender, juicy, succulent, well-flavoured meat. Allow 50 minutes per 500 grams and an extra 20 minutes’ cooking time.
Place the meat into a saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Bring slowly to a simmer. There is no need to change the water – that is a leftover from the times of high salt content.
Do not boil the meat while cooking; the end result will be tough and chewy, and there will be greater shrinkage. (There is always some shrinkage, but it is more when incorrectly cooked).
A slow cooker (crock pot) is ideal for cooking corned meats. Cook in a preheated slow cooker, adding 1 cup of liquid and flavourings and cook on low. A 1 kilogram piece of corned meat will require 5-6 hours.
If planning to serve corned beef or pickled pork cold, allow it to cool in the cooking liquid for 1 hour, then transfer to a plate or container, cover and refrigerate.
This hearty dish is ideal for cold-weather dinners – and leftovers are great for packed lunches.
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