Did you ever wonder why corned beef is called corned beef? As far as I can tell, it doesn’t contain any corn. It doesn’t really even look like beef and is made from what is decidedly not one of the choicest cuts on the carcass.
The name comes from the corn-kernel size of the rock-salt grains originally used centuries ago in the brine that preserves and flavors the pickled pieces of brisket.
We all associate corned beef with St. Patrick’s Day and Irish cooking, but back in the old country it was actually a very expensive commodity. When the Irish immigrated to beef-rich America, they found that it was just the opposite here. The preparation has been the affordable, readily available mainstay of waves of poor immigrants of all persuasions. That must be why the salty-spice-infused flavor and the fatty, rich texture have been embedded, for many of us, in our taste DNA.
Matt Heisel, the chef at Dan Rooney’s in Yonkers, created his own, unique preparation using whole grain mustard and a secret house blend of spices. The cooking process produces a brisket so tender that he can serve it in savory, tender chunks rather than having to thinly slice it.
Chef Matt Raymond of Table Local Market in Bedford Hills procures his grass-fed briskets from neighboring Cabbage Hill Farm in Mount Kisco, a pioneer of the sustainable farming movement in the County, and performs his magic on them in-house. His nitrite-free version takes a full week to cure, celery salt being his secret ingredient (well, secret until now). Raymond offers both fully cooked and pot-ready versions and can, of course, provide all the trimmings, again from nearby sources. Give the market a call to place your order; it is as precious as Leprechaun’s gold and, as such, allotments are limited to the truly lucky among us.