Can you use ground beef to make corned beef?

Can you use ground beef to make corned beef?

Bastian Lovell 31 Jul 2023

Decoding the Corned Beef Mystery

Is it possible to turn ground beef into corned beef? You bet! Just the other day, my son Fergus gave me one of those puzzled looks and asked, "Dad, can we really make corned beef from ground beef?" Now having a rather inquisitive fondness for everything culinary, I thought this question was worth a deeper dive. So here is my attempt to shed light on this interesting kitchen predicament.

The Core Difference: Ground Beef vs. Corned Beef

Before jumping into the main dish, let's set the table correctly. Ground beef typically hails from various cuts of beef finely chopped by a meat grinder. Think burgers, meatloaf, or spaghetti bolognese. On the other hand, corned beef, a salt-cured product, traditionally uses brisket—flavourful, fatty, and fabulous when cooked long and slow. Why the name "corned" you ask? The term originates from the large "corns" or chunks of salt originally used to cure the meat.

Traditional Corned Beef: Patience Rewarded

Traditional corned beef preparation is an exercise in patience. It's comparable to when Fergus decided to collect seashells. The curing process, involving brine and time—usually five to seven days—tenders and spices the meat, prepping it for a delightful slow-cooking experience. Patience in such instances is definitely a virtue you want on your side.

The Magic of Instant Cure #1: A Shortcut to Corned Beef

Now, in our modern, fast-paced world, waiting a week to enjoy their corned beef might turn off some home cooks. Thankfully, there's a magic ingredient for impatient palates—Prague powder #1, also called "instant cure" or "pink curing salt". This mixture of ordinary table salt and sodium nitrite reduces the curing time dramatically, and it's what gives the meat its characteristic pinkish colour.

Yes, Ground Beef can become Corned Beef

Now, coming to the crux of the matter. Can we use ground beef to make corned beef? To keep it short and sweet, the answer is a resounding yes. However, creating corned ground beef—even if it has a catchy ring to it—might mean compromising on texture. The beautiful, slow-cooked, fall-apart slices synonymous with corned beef aren't achievable with ground meat since its fine texture shortens the cooking time considerably. Nevertheless, you will enjoy the same flavours of a traditional corned beef, just in a different form.

Ground Beef Corned Beef: Transforming an Everyday Ingredient

The process of transforming ground beef into a corned beef-type dish is straightforward. Firstly, we mix ground beef with ingredients such as ground black pepper, ground allspice, mustard seed, and instant cure #1. Think of it as a different version of corned beef. Much like how my daughter, Lenore, creates her unique versions of classic paintings. After letting the ground beef marinate in the refrigerator overnight, it’s ready to be transformed into a corned beef-inspired dish. The best part? You can experiment with different seasonings and proportions to find your personal favourite recipe.

A recipe for the Books: Corned Ground Beef Hash

Just to get you started, here's a simple recipe idea—Corned Ground Beef Hash. After marinating your ground beef, sauté it with onions and boiled, diced potatoes. Top it with a poached or fried egg, and you've got the perfect breakfast dish. As ground beef is quicker to cook than a whole brisket, this is also an excellent dinner idea for those busy weeknights.

Summing Up the Ground Beef Corned Beef Conundrum

So, to sum it up—the journey from ground beef to corned beef may not result in a traditional "corned beef" experience, but rather a delightful variant that'll satiate your corned beef cravings without the wait. Whether you're an experienced cook or a kitchen newbie trying to impress your date, converting the familiar ground beef into an exotic corned beef twist might earn you loads of "tasteful" compliments.

Smiles aside, remember that the joy of cooking lies in experimentation. So if you are lured by the curiosity of this culinary adventure, give it a try. After all, we live once, and food is too delicious to be confined to the same old recipes.

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