I know of a few CrossFitters who already have their corned beef and cabbage fix all planned out! Happy St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day makes me homesick for all things green, wet, misty, cold, rainy, windy and sea-worthy. I also miss Boston’s Irish bars and fields of clover. While some of the Catholic Saints are remarkably, deeply inspirational I’m not a huge fan of St. Patrick, and the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is more American than Irish anyway. The Irish celebrate all the Saints. But, the eating of corned beef can certainly be a good enough reason why followers of CrossFit and primal food ways should get excited about every restaurant in town serving up corned beef today. The term “corned” refers to the coarse grains of salt that were traditionally used to make corned beef. Curing meat in salt was one of the very first meat preservation methods and has been practised by humans for at least 4,000 yrs. Other spices such as peppercorns and celery seed also act as preservatives and fight the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Another traditional, post-agricultural, contribution to the preservation of meat was the addition of whey to the curing solution. Whey adds lactic acid and the associated lactic acid-loving bacteria. Both salt, lactic acid, and lactic acid bacteria act to preserve the meat, but also to pre-digest it. In addition, meat preserved without refrigeration undergoes autolysis which is the breakdown of the cells in the meat by their own enzymes. All this creates a tender, meltingly delicious, easy-to-digest piece of meat: brilliantly perfect for lean, sometimes tough cuts of grass-fed beef. Store-bought corned beef, of course, has been hit with the wrecking ball of commercial food preparation. Saltpeter (potassium nitrite) is added to the meat to assist in preservation, but also to maintain the pink color of the meat. If you make your own corned beef it will be gray, not pink.
If you would like to try this amazingly delicious method of preparing your paleo-legit grass fed beef I highly suggest following the instructions written by Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions. You can find these recipes at a blog called The Nourished Kitchen as well.