Everything You Need To Know About Using Corned Beef

This canned beef is super tasty to use in recipes, too.

IMAGE Patrick Martires

Did you know that beef that has been "corned" or "corned beef" is just beef that has been preserved or cured in saltwater? The "corn" part of "corned beef" actually takes its name from the size of the salt crystals being used to cure the beef. Salt was, at the time, the size of corn kernels, hence salt beef was also commonly known as "corned beef". 

It wasn't until the invention of canning that corned beef also made its presence in cans but you'd be surprised that those cans didn't taste anything like the corned beef that we all know and love.  

The modern-day corned beef is brined in a solution that is similar to the saltwater used before but it also now includes other ingredients, too, to make the corned beef not only taste better, more flavorful, but also preserve it for even longer. This is why you usually don't need to season the meat anymore!  

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Just like other canned meats, canned corned beef is almost always already cooked and was vacuum-cooked in its can and once cooled, are ready-to-eat. That's why it's easy to use and fast to prepare!  

If you are tired of eating corned beef straight from the can, whether simply fried or simmered with some potatoes, here is a quick guide on how to use that flavorful can of meat. 

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Photo by Patrick Martires
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1 Do not drain!  

Sautéing is usually the first step many people take when it comes to corned beef. For those making a simple ginisang corned beef, this will also involve sautéing some garlic, onions, and tomatoes and cooking chunks of potatoes until tender. Combine this mix with corned beef and you can make a simple and fast meal. 

However, when you open a can, you may notice some liquid in the can with the beef. This liquid is leftover from its vacuum-cooking process and is a seriously flavorful liquid. Even the lard is tasty, so do not drain or discard it! 

You can dump the entire contents into your pan or if your dish cannot use any more liquid, save it for another use. It's flavor-packed, umami-laden, and basically, liquid gold! If you're not sautéing your dish, you can save that liquid (and the lard, too) since a teaspoon of that liquid can add beefiness to simple scrambled eggs or can be drizzled onto steamed vegetables for a burst of corned beef flavor.

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2 To sauté or not sauté. 

Unless you're going to simmer the shredded corned beef in some broth, you're going to want to sauté it, even just a little bit, so that it can not only become heated through, but it will absorb the flavor that was in the liquid it was in. This will create an even tastier corned beef. 

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Photo by Majoy Siason

3 Stir it in, but hold the salt.  

Are you using the corned beef as an ingredient of a recipe instead of on its own? That's a great idea and one that will yield even better tasting dishes! The easiest way you can use corned beef is by simply stirring it in.

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This can produce super tasty results! You can stir corned beef into beaten eggs for a simple torta for breakfast or lunch, into leftover mashed potatoes to make into crunchy potato balls, stirred into the pasta sauce of lasagna or macaroni, or added to fried rice to make it even more appetizing!       

Just a warning: hold the salt until after the corned beef has been added or your dish may become too salty. 

Canned meats are easy to use in recipes. If you remember these pointers when using that flavorful can of meat, you can create some incredibly delicious dishes, just by opening a can.  

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