Corned beef a real slice of life
ONE of the meals we most looked forward to when I was a kid was mum’s corned silverside. Our family has Irish ancestry so mum had a fairly traditional recipe that hailed from the Emerald Isle, but corned silverside (or just corned beef) is served in many countries – its exact origins are unclear.
What is clear though is that beef and other meats were corned as a way of extending their life. In the days before refrigeration the corning process (so called because the granules of salt that were used resembled kernels of corn) kept the meat edible for longer (as did certain ways of currying meat – the vinegar-based vindaloo from the Goa region of India started as just another way of pickling perishable food).
Mum cooked her silverside the day before and left it sitting in the cooking water overnight, then she would reheat it gently the day of serving. If you are planning to serve it cold or use the leftovers for sandwiches it retains more moisture if cooled in the cooking liquid.
Mum served it with bechamel (otherwise known as “white” sauce); depending upon what was available we would sometimes have onion or parsley added. I do both but I’m also happy to eat the meat without a sauce. You can also serve it with mustard or a mustard-flavoured bechamel.
Mum’s corned silverside
INGREDIENTS: ◗ 2.5kg piece of corned silverside ◗ cold water to cover ◗ 1 stalk of celery ◗ 1 carrot ◗ 1 onion, halved
◗ 10 whole cloves ◗ 10 whole black peppercorns ◗ 1⁄ tsp 2 allspice or nutmeg or mace ◗ 3 tbs brown sugar ◗ 3 tbs malt vinegar or lemon juice
METHOD: Place meat in a large saucepan and just cover with cold water. Add remaining ingredients and cover the pot. Bring to the boil then reduce heat until water is just simmering. Cook for one hour per kilogram. You can remove pot from the heat and leave meat to stand while you prepare the accompaniments. After slicing and serving meat, return any leftover to the liquid to cool.
◗ Corned beef is delicious hot or cold.