Red or Gray?

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a post from eleven years ago complete with some of the comments left at that time.

Even though corned beef is not regularly consumed in Ireland, we eat a lot of it on St Patrick’s Day.  But I have a couple of questions: Why is one type of corned beef red and the other gray?  What happens chemically that accounts for the difference in color? Which do you prefer? Where’s the best place to get a corned beef and cabbage dinner in Lowell?

Prince Charming – Mary Noon could do us all a favor and share her recipe with us here.

Rosemary Noon – Mary Noon’s Irish Bread recipe.

2 1/2 cups sifted flour (do not level any of the dry
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup margarine (I use a whole stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I use full pint)
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter (I add flour too)8″ round pan. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda together and set aside. Cream shortening and sugar, add egg and sour cream and mix well. Stir into flour mixture until well blended. Fold in raisins. Place into pan and cut a deep cross into the dough. My mother says a prayer at this point, something like, “Dear God let this come out right.” I choose to believe the cross helps bake the middle of the bread, but adding the prayer probably won’t hurt. Bake for 50 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes longer.

Good luck!

Mark – Red.  I boil mine in a slow cooker all day long with Guinness.  It’s one of the only meals I’m allowed to cook all year.

Anonymous – Red corned beef is brined with saltpeter.  Gray is not.

Marie – For many years my mother “corned” her own brisket in salt water a few days before the holyday. The gray is the traditional version while we were always told the red was what was served in a deli. I’m not fond of cabbage and prefer my corned beef with hot boiled potatoes and carrots with lots of butter. Of course, some home-made soda bread finishes the feast. My mother always included nuts and used a cast-iron pan in making hers. Mary Noon makes a great bread with sour cream – very moist. Nothing can compare with Ma’s corned beef dinner but that’s no longer an option. I’m told that Paul at the River Road Cafe does a good version so that’s our dinner stop tomorrow!

Dick – Here’s Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” episode on how to make corned beef.

Marie – ps – Ma’s left over corned beef made great sandwiches and corned beef hash. After we got married the “locals” got their own corned beef dinner with all the fixin’s, a loaf of bread and a delicious “Apple Pan Dowdy.” God we were spoiled!

Shawn – Yeah, Alton Brown had a show all about corned beef this week.  It’s the salt-peter that keeps it pink.  I was surprised at work to hear so many young people try to explain to me that it had to do with the type of corn fed to the beef before slaughter… I’m really getting old.

Marie – Years ago in another life – Mary Noon did a cooking demonstration with this recipe during the Lowell Folk Festival in a demo- tent on Market Street. My mother did some commentary on the process while I made Irish coffee. All present seemed to really enjoy the experience and all the samples. And no I didn’t have a license – it was all about ethnic culture and history! Thanks to Mary and Rosemary.

Prince Charming – Thanks to Mary.  You made my day.