'Flavours In The Round,' or Corned Beef Sandwiches and Continental Salad

Alright, give me your opinions on corned beef. I'll be the first to admit I don't understand it. As a kid, I was repelled by the name (beef with corn in it?!), then as a grown-up I lumped it in with green beer on the list of things you only really eat once a year. But then I went to Ireland two years ago and realised that, holy moly, corned beef is magnificent. It's perfect and tender, flavourful and perfect with a pint of Guiness and a pile of mashed potatoes on an icy autumn day.

Ireland is not that far from Scotland, so I figured our corned beef here would be similar... which was my first mistake. To be fair to Scotland and it's potential corned beef supporters, I had no choice but to buy the corned beef used in this sandwich from the grocery store deli section, as everything else was already closed by the time I decided to make this sandwich. It's like a totally different meat, though. Judson referred to it, tactfully, as 'the tuna fish of lunchmeats,' but I, less gracefully, responded, 'I think you mean cat food of lunchmeats.' It had that processed look that all canned meats have (even though it didn't come in a can!) and it was so thin that it just kind of tasted like poor man's paté. The bright spot of this ordeal is twofold, though.

First, I have found a substitute for my beloved banana peppers-- a pickled vegetable that I always had a jar of when I lived in the US. Since moving to Scotland, I haven't been able to find them at the store, so I've had to go without. In the effort to make this sandwich, though, I found the super-strange long and spindly peppers pictured here. The bottle is labelled merely 'pickled peppers,' and I've only found one middle-eastern grocery store that sells them, but I HAVE THEM and they taste like banana peppers, so I'm happy. Additionally, it turns out pickled peppers are awesome on sandwiches! I've spent all my life putting them on salads, tacos, pizzas, etc., but it never occurred to me to try them on sandwiches. Well, now I know and so do you, so go get yourself a bottle of pickled peppers, skip the corned beef, and go to town.

Second, I learned why corned beef is called 'corned,' after a certain husband who shall remain nameless tried to convince me that it somehow involved actual corn. (It patently does not.) As it happens, corned beef is just a tough cut of meat similar to brisket that is marinated or rubbed with 'corns' of kosher salt to render it more flavourful and tender. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle of convincing yourself to make this sandwich.

You could pair your sandwich with this salad... but I have to warn you: I love artichokes. I love them on pizza, or with butter, sautéed or canned or fried, it doesn't matter. But I've successfully found an artichoke recipe even I am pretty meh about, and it's this salad. There's nothing inherently wrong with it... there's just also nothing right about it, and now I'm stuck with a bottle of 'French' dressing I'm never going to make it through because of this recipe. (Incidentally, I ended up with a bottle of creamy white French because the actual recipe calls for a 1:1 ratio of blue cheese dressing and red French dressing, which doesn't exist in Scotland, so I figured creamy French would do the job. It didn't.)

I do have to say, though-- swap out the weird bottled dressing for a honeyed-balsamic vinaigrette, and this salad would be just amazing. Paired for dinner, as we did, with the odd dressing combination and the only mediocre sandwich and we had a thoroughly disappointing dinner. You don't have to, though! Make yourself some homemade dressing and whip up this salad-- it's got at least two servings of veggies in it, so your body will thank you!

The verdict:

2 spoons out of five on the sandwich; 3 spoons out of five on the salad, given that you make it with better dressing than what I did. As for the sandwich, if you like corned beef, you'll love it. But if you're not sold on the need in the world for corned beef, then you might want to save your banana peppers for something more reasonable.

The recipe:

Corned Beef Sandwiches & Continental Salad

The directions:

Spread two slices of bread with mayonnaise.
Layer two slices of corned beef on each slice of bread.
Cover with a slice of cheese on each sandwich, then top with remaining bread slices.
Garnish with banana peppers.



Tear greens into bite-size pieces into two salad bowls.
Add artichoke hearts, sliced mushrooms, halved tomatoes, onion slices, and cucumber slices.
Toss lightly, then add cheese and drizzle with dressing.



the ingredients:
the sandwich:

4 slices of bread
4 slices of corned beef
2 slices provolone or emmenthal if you live in Scotland and can't find provolone anywhere
4 banana peppers


the salad:

2 little gems
1 can artichoke hearts
1 handful white mushrooms
1 handful grape tomatoes
½ red onion, sliced as thinly as possible
1 small cucumber
2 heaping spoonfuls blue cheese, crumbled
Dressing of your choice