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Utah News

What Is Corned Beef And Is It Irish?

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St. Patrick’s Day is a day that many people use to celebrate Irish heritage and the famous St. Patrick. A popular dish that is enjoyed by many people is corned beef—but is this really an Irish dish?

Brisket; the main ingredient of the famous dish corned beef and cabbage. This dish is mainly associated with the Irish but if you take a look at its history, this is not really accurate. 

Kathy Riggs, a family consumer science professor with Utah State University says corned beef dates back to when Ireland went under English rule. 

The Irish  “had masters and rulers, that were governing that were from England, they were basically forced to incorporate beef into their diets," said Riggs.  "And they were used to salting their pork so they salted their beef and use ‘corn’ to make the corn beef.”

The brisket is typically a tough piece of meat, but David Dang of the USU Meat Lab says the salting process the Irish did helps.

“If you want to go back trace back the history of corned beef, that salt cure we use to make corn beef actually makes the beef more tender,” said Dang.

This curing process also alters the look of the meat.

“Corned beef is normally recognized that by pink color. That because of the curing salt that is used is pink,” said Riggs. 

Now, what about the cabbage? That’s where the Americas come in. When the Irish came over to America, Riggs said they were looking for a vegetable to incorporate into their diets. 

Riggs said, “the Irish also brought potatoes, they were tired of potatoes. So they were looking for inexpensive vegetables over here and cabbage was what they ended up using.”

Because of this, Riggs says that corned beef and cabbage is a Irish- American dish.