We all look forward to the mouth-watering taste of corned beef from our local Massachusetts Butcher on St. Patrick’s Day. Here at D’Errico’s Market, we take pride in providing fresh and choice cuts of meat and deli specials for every occasion, and St. Patrick’s day holds a special place in our hearts! We love representing Massachusetts’ Irish heritage, and today, we’re taking a look at the history of the iconic corned beef in Irish-American households.
We all hear “corned beef” and immediately equate it with Ireland, but it may surprise you to learn that this traditional dish isn’t uniquely Irish. According to this Smithsonian article, the cow was deemed sacred throughout Irish history. Because of this, beef was only eaten when a cow grew too old to produce milk, and it was mainly served to those of royal status. Instead, pork was a principal protein source. Today, beef is a standard addition to any Irish menu, but corned beef has never been considered a national dish.
The idea to salt beef–and “corned beef”–was introduced to Ireland by the English, who have always loved their salted beef. This style of serving beef was highly sought for its longevity in the British Navy. Soon, everyone wanted a slice of this salted beef! Thanks to their source of excellent beef and a salt tax, the Irish monopolized this demand. In modern times, however, most nations have their beef source, so the salted-beef delicacy is easy to source at local butchers worldwide.
So if corned beef isn’t Irish, why eat it on the most popular Irish holiday of the year? When the Irish immigrated to America, they found this source of beef at a fraction of the cost. However, they weren’t eating it with just salt and pepper. Instead, they followed suit with their Jewish-American neighbors in cities like New York, who placed a brisket in a pot with cabbage and carrots, with just the right amount of salt and corning spices. After years of reclaiming their Irish heritage and mixing it with new traditions, Irish immigrant families centered St. Patrick’s Day around a celebration of their Irish heritage.
Since 1947, D’Errico Market has been your local and trusted Worcester butcher. We are dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality meats and cheeses at affordable prices. So what are you waiting for?