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Taken from the rear upper thighs of the cow, at joints just below the rump, the silverside cut of beef is a roast well-suited for salt curing before cooking. Corned silverside, so named for the flap of virtually inedible skin along one edge, is one of a few types of less-tender roasts typically used for the dish more widely known as corned beef. This meat originally was cured with salt pellets rubbed into the skin of the meat for a long period of curing, but a brining bath in saltwater laced with seasonings like garlic, bay leaf and peppercorn is more customary in 2011.
Corned beef is a prized dish in numerous cultures throughout the world, from European countries like Ireland, England and New Zealand, across to the Americas and down to Australia. In many of these places, the dish corned beef is actually known as corned silverside, or just silverside. Contrary to popular belief, however, corned silverside has a longer and prouder tradition in countries other than Ireland. In America though, the dish and that culture alone are inextricably linked.
Other cuts of meat are also used besides silverside to make corned silverside. The brisket, from just above the front legs, is regularly used for corned beef. Flank or other rump roasts might be used to make the dish as well.
Corned silverside starts with a sealed storage period in saltwater that has been boiled with black peppercorns and bay leaf in the European tradition. Others, like TV chef Alton Brown, use a broad range of seasonings for the brine: all spice, ginger, juniper berries, cinnamon, saltpeter, salt, sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns and cloves. In most cases, the corned silverside undergoes a refrigerated bath that lasts about 10 days. The mixture should be checked every day or two to make sure the meat stays underwater and the seasonings are well-stirred.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking corned beef "low and slow" in constant moisture for this decidedly untender meat to cook all the way through and become tender. This means a covered pot, crock pot, pressure cooker or covered casserole dish will be needed. In the oven, a brisket with the fat facing upward should be cooked at about an hour per pound at 325°F (about 163°C). It also can be boiled in water on a stovetop in about the same amount of time. When using a crock pot, though, it will take as long as six hours on high or a half-day on low to cook. Below the corned beef in the pot can go vegetables like potatoes, carrots and cabbage swimming in a water that will turn into more of a gravy come time to serve the dish.
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