Corned beef a family favourite

Corned silverside
Corned silverside

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 followed the 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, no matter which country it was prepared in, beef and other meats were corned as a way of extending their viability.

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.

The traditional Irish accompaniment to corned silverside is colcannon, a hearty vegetable side consisting of mashed potatoes combined with cabbage.

I love colcannon (in fact it's one of the few ways I eat cabbage - it's not generally a favourite of mine), but you can also serve the spuds either boiled, steamed or just mashed on their own to complement corned beef.

Mum used to cook her silverside the day before and leave it sitting in the cooking water overnight.

Then she would reheat it gently the day of serving.

I have tried both Mum's way and serving immediately after cooking and to be honest, I can't see much difference if the meat is served hot; however if you are planning to serve it cold or use the leftovers for sandwiches it retains more moisture if cooled in the cooking liquid.

We also ate or corned beef with a béchamel-based sauce - otherwise known as "white" sauce.

Depending upon what was available, we would sometimes have onion or parsley added; I do both on occasions but I'm also happy to eat the dish without a sauce.

Some cooks serve it with mustard or a mustard-flavoured bechamel. The choice is up to you.


Mum's corned silverside

Serves 6



2.5kg piece of corned silverside

cold water to cover

1 stalk of celery

1 carrot

1 onion, halved

12 whole cloves

12 whole black peppercorns

1/2 tspn allspice OR nutmeg OR mace

2 tblspn brown sugar

2 tblspn vinegar OR lemon juice



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.


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Topics:  cooking easy eating food lifestyle recipes

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