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Corned Beef

Corned BeefCorned beef is beef that is first pickled in brine and then cooked by simmering. Usually, cuts of meat are used that feature long muscle grain, such as the brisket.

The name corned beef is due to a coarse salt used in the pickling process. Corn originally meant grain, as in a small particle of something, and referred to the corns of salt.

In the United States and Canada

In the United States, corned beef is often purchased at delicatessens. Perhaps the most famous sandwich made with it is the Reuben sandwich, consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread and then grilled on a flat griddle or cast iron pan. It is served hot. The Reuben was first developed in Omaha, Nebraska at the Blackstone Hotel.

In certain regions, such as in Philadelphia, the Corned Beef Special is a popular offering. It is served cold. It is made by first steaming the corned beef and topping it with coleslaw, and then placing both between rye bread that is coated with Russian dressing. The Corned Beef Special was first developed by Charles Weber at R&W Deli in Philadelphia in 1957.

It is also associated with Saint Patrick's Day when Irish Americans eat a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. According to the History Channel, while cabbage has long been a traditional food item for the Irish, corned beef serving as a substitute for Irish bacon first became traditional in the late 1800s. Irish immigrants living in New York City's Lower East Side sought an equivalent in taste and texture to their traditional Irish bacon (similar to Canadian bacon), and learned about this cheaper alternative to bacon from their Jewish neighbors. 

It is worth noting that this is slightly inaccurate as it suggests a universal change of tradition; to be more specific, this applies only to the tradition of Irish Americans. Most native Irish people would be surprised and amused (or possibly appalled) at the suggestion that corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish meal.

The Saint Patrick's Day tradition has been cause of some controversy among American Catholic dioceses in 2000 and 2006, when the holiday fell on a Friday during Lent. Lenten custom dictates that no meat be consumed on Fridays during Lent. Controversy has arisen because some bishops have granted dispensations to their dioceses for eating corned beef on St Patrick's Day.

Corned beef hash is commonly served as a breakfast food with eggs and hash browns.

Smoking corned beef, usually with the addition of extra spices such as black pepper, produces a cold cut known as pastrami, or, in Canada, smoked meat.

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