Corned beef stew

Secondborn’s school has asked parents to provide a family recipe, preferably with a bit of a story to it, for a cookery book which will go on sale to raise funds.

We have such a recipe – corned beef stew. My mother made it when I was a child, her mother made it for her when she was a child in the days of rationing after the war.

The name has nothing to do with maize, though…

The name comes from Anglo-Saxon times before refrigeration. In those days, the meat was dry-cured in coarse “corns” of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it.

A major component of military rations during the first and second world wars and then a feature of the austerity years of post-war civilian food restrictions, corned beef has long been very much looked down on. Now is the time to reclaim this shunned delicacy with its bizarrely-shaped tins and their lethal mode of opening.

The children love the corned beef stew I prepare for them from an amalgam of memory and experiment. We made it together tonight and took pictures in case the book will be illustrated. You can see the results below.

10 Replies to “Corned beef stew”

  1. I’m disillusioned. I thought you were going to tell us how to slaughter a cow and salt down the meat.

  2. I love this presentation, makes me feel like cooking right now even though I don’t like corned beef. I’ll just eat the vegetables.
    The kids look smashing.

  3. How do you manage to take photos with an onion in each hand?

  4. Krista, you’re welcome, any time.

    Dave, not so many cows roaming around central London at this time of year otherwise obviously I’d be delighted to demonstrate.

    GAP – Maizy was there, in full effect. She ate a large quantity of carrot and potato peelings which fell to the floor before being rewarded with her own morsel.

    Natalie – I think this could be adapted for spam, would you like that better? 🙂

    Stop the world – I have a contraption like those of harmonica playing guitarists fashioned especially for such two-onion emergencies. I press the button with my nose.

  5. Three cheers: one for peasant food, one for photos that tell a story, and one for a gigantic act of mercy towards the marauding predators in the last photo.


  6. though I must cavil & say that there is an etymological relationship between corn and corned beef — a “korn” is a seed, in Old English, be it a pepper seed or a wheat seed or (as adapted in America) a maize seed.

  7. Great tutorial — I can almost smell the onions from here! 🙂

    So when am I coming over for din-dins, eh?

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