12 Creative Uses For Canned Corned Beef

dishes with canned corned beef
dishes with canned corned beef - Static Media / Shutterstock

Corned beef is a wonderful thing, and it's deservedly appreciated and loved. Canned corned beef? Not so much. There's something about a molded block of pink meat leaving its can with a squelch and a plop that can dent even the heartiest appetite. Even here on Tasting Table, it's been called one of the worst canned foods to buy.

While it does come in for its share of abuse, there are also plenty of us who appreciate canned corned beef for its virtues. Those include its durability as a low-cost, high-protein food that can be kept on hand for quick meals, which is why another Tasting Table writer cited it as a canned meat to consider stocking in your pantry (we have our differences of opinion about food, like everyone else).

The canned kind falls well short of the flavor and texture of regular corned beef, though buying the best brand you can find certainly helps. That being said, it's a useful and versatile (and hugely underrated) product in its own right, in both traditional and non-traditional dishes. Here are a dozen ideas to get you started, and spark your own creativity.

Read more: Hacks That Will Make Boiling Your Eggs So Much Easier

Make A Batch Of Jamaican-Style Bully Beef

corned beef over rice
corned beef over rice - CKP1001/Shutterstock

The old-school British name for canned corned beef is "bully beef," and if you grew up in most parts of the former Empire this is the name you'd be familiar with. It traveled to those imperial outposts along with British troops, traders and explorers, and anyone else who wanted familiar comfort food while serving abroad.

The inhabitants of the far-flung empire also got to know and appreciate bully beef, and found ways to incorporate it in dishes that incorporated local ingredients and pleased local tastes. So if you want to try a dish that will totally upend your ideas of what corned beef tastes like, Jamaican-style bully beef is a good candidate. It will rock your world.

It starts with canned corned beef, but it's not just sliced or gouged from the can and served as-is. Instead, it's simmered slowly with a base of aromatic vegetables, including onions, garlic, bell pepper, and Scotch Bonnet peppers, then served over a bed of rice, plantains, or other starchy food to soak up the intensely flavored juices.

Top Your Baked Potato With Canned Corned Beef

loaded baked potatoes
loaded baked potatoes - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

When you think of a loaded baked potato, which toppings do you picture? For most of us, the default choices might include some combination of butter, cheese, sour cream, crumbled bacon, and thinly sliced green onion or chives. For some of us, it's all of the above.

Well, corned beef ticks the same general range of salty, meaty, savory flavors as bacon or ham, and that makes it a fine substitute for those meats; especially if you don't eat pork for religious reasons (not all brands are explicitly kosher or halal), but those are available.

Using leftover corned beef on a baked potato is a good way to deal with the aftermath of St. Patrick's Day, but for the rest of the year, it's easier to grab a can of beef from your pantry. After a few minutes of browning and crisping in a skillet, it's every bit as good as bacon on a baked potato, but intriguingly different.

Fry Canned Corned Beef As A Breakfast Meat

egg with canned corned beef
egg with canned corned beef - jreika/Shutterstock

Most of us enjoy eggs in the morning, with toast or grits or an English muffin, and some form of cured pork (bacon, ham, sausage) on the side. Inevitably there will come a day when you find that you don't have any in your fridge -- or that they've been in your fridge too long for comfort -- and on those mornings, canned corned beef can save the day.

Slide the corned beef from its can, and use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to cut it into slices at least a quarter-inch thick (we find they fall apart if they're any thinner). Carefully dredge the slices in flour, brush off any excess, and then place them in a hot skillet with a little bit of oil. The skillet must be hot enough to sear the floured surface quickly. If it's too cool the beef will stick, and break when you try to turn it.

That's the way we ate it in childhood, and still usually prepare it, but you can also bread the beef so it'll be sturdier and stand up better to handling. In that case, after dredging the beef in flour, dip it in milk or a beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs. We find canned corned beef is easier to slice and handle if there's time to chill it first, firming its texture, but that part's optional.

Make A Version Of Irish Benedict

eggs Benedict with asparagus
eggs Benedict with asparagus - dewspliff/Shutterstock

Eggs Benedict is one of the richest and most self-indulgent brunch dishes. It's perfect for special occasions, but still (relatively) quick and inexpensive enough to enjoy any time you feel inclined to treat yourself.

Of course, such a simple but luxurious dish lends itself to all kinds of variations. We've replaced the usual Canadian bacon with luxe ingredients like lump crab, smoked salmon, or duck prosciutto, or even meatless alternatives like sautéed mushrooms.

Corned beef works here, too, and there's a specific version that's often referred to as "Irish Benedict." It calls for upcycling leftover spuds into potato pancakes, topping those with corned beef, and then adding the usual egg and Hollandaise. If you don't just happen to have those lying around, fry up canned corned beef instead (slices or crumbles, your choice) and mound them on top of frozen hash brown patties, or a plain ol' English muffin if you must. Top it with eggs and Hollandaise, and enjoy every single bite.

Add Canned Corned Beef To Meatloaf

mixing meatloaf ingredients
mixing meatloaf ingredients - Nannycz/Shutterstock

Which day of the week was meatloaf day when you were growing up? That tradition has faded somewhat, but it was common enough in bygone years to be a cliche on vintage sitcoms. And why not? Meatloaf is solid, nourishing comfort food, and reasonably inexpensive compared to a roast of the same size.

You may use a recipe that's been in your family for generations, or start from one that caught your eye on the internet. Either way, most recipes include ingredients that add moisture, provide enough fat to balance the lean, or bring flavor to the finished loaf. Using canned corned beef in your meatloaf does all of these things.

Ordinary corned beef needs to be finely chopped or shredded first, so shifting to canned beef automatically saves you some prep time. Just warm the beef in a skillet or your microwave, break it up, and massage it into your meat mixture. Its salty, savory cured-meat flavor elevates the meatloaf, without overpowering the rest of its flavors. The same trick works equally well with meatballs or even burger patties.

Make Quick, Easy Corned Beef Hash

corned beef hash with egg
corned beef hash with egg - Undefined Undefined/Getty Images

Corned beef hash is a hearty and tasty breakfast dish, one that's often made on March 18th with the potatoes and corned beef left over from your St. Patrick's Day festivities. It may or may not live up to its reputation as a hangover cure, but at the very least it will give you a pleasant distraction from the way your head feels.

Of course, you may not feel up to that level of functionality on the proverbial "morning after," and you may also want to enjoy the tasty breakfast without preparing a lavish meal the day before. In those situations, canned corned beef is your friend.

Instead of dicing potatoes and chopping up leftover corned beef, go to your pantry for a can of beef and your fridge for a bag of already-diced frozen hash browns. Toss them into a hot skillet with some sliced onion and a splash of cooking oil, and your cooking responsibilities are almost over. Just stir the ingredients occasionally as they turn golden brown, and then add a last-minute egg or two. Even on the shakiest of mornings, almost anyone can handle that.

Canned Corned Beef + Leftover Mashed = Tasty Croquettes

frying croquettes in oil
frying croquettes in oil - kazoka/Shutterstock

Leftover mashed potatoes are such a versatile ingredient that it's almost always worth making extra just to have them on hand. While a lot of the recipes calling for leftover mashed are simple comfort food, like potato pancakes or potato soup, a few are suitable for company.

One of those uses is croquettes, which could be summarized as "stuffed and fried mashed potato balls." Like Italy's arancini and suppli, which use leftover risotto instead of potatoes, croquettes make excellent party food or appetizers. They're also an excellent vehicle for anything else you have on hand that would make them tastier, and that's where the canned corned beef comes in.

Gently warm and crumble the corned beef, and then knead it into your mashed potatoes. We like to add beaten egg and cheese to the mixture, to help bind it, and cheese also makes the croquettes that much tastier. Shape the croquettes into balls or logs, dip them in the remaining beaten egg, and then roll them in breadcrumbs. Fry them in hot oil until they're crisp and golden, and then serve them warm with your choice of condiment or sauce. They're delicious.

Make Beefy Musubi

musubi and chopsticks
musubi and chopsticks - Russo Mutuc/Shutterstock

Spam has a lot in common with canned corned beef, and you'll often see them close together at the supermarket. Both come out of the can in a stiff log of pink meat, and both are longstanding (and long-lasting) pantry staples.

The similarities don't stop there. Spam's familiar blue can follow in America's wake throughout the world, just as "bully beef" followed the British settlement. Also like canned corned beef, Spam has been adapted to cuisines around the world. One of the best-known of those adaptations is Spam musubi, Hawaii's odd but much-loved mashup of American processed pork and Japanese sushi culture.

Many people can't or won't eat pork, for religious or other reasons, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy musubi. Swapping in canned corned beef for the usual Spam makes for an intriguing variation on the theme, worth trying in its own right even if you're a cheerful pork eater.

Craft Quiches, Omelets, Or Frittatas With Corned Beef

frittata in iron skillet
frittata in iron skillet - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Eggs' affinity for salty, savory cured meats is pretty well established, but that doesn't mean you're limited to serving canned corned beef alongside your morning pair of sunny-side-ups. There are a lot of other ways to cook eggs, after all -- culinary legend says the chef's toque has 100 pleats, to represent the 100 egg dishes a chef should know -- and canned corned beef can pack a punch of flavor into a surprising number of those.

Consider quiches, for example. Many classic quiches include some form of pork or ham, and canned corned beef (seared and then diced, or crumbled and browned) can take their place in many of them. In fact, this may be one of the best ways to eat canned corned beef.

Then there are frittatas, which can be thought of as either a "crustless quiche" or as a jumbo omelet that's finished in the oven. You could also fold crumbled and browned (or sliced) canned corned beef into a regular omelet. If you really want to elevate the beef and showcase your skills, you might even incorporate it into a souffle (don't forget the cream of tartar, it will make your soufflé taller and sturdier).

Make Canned Corned Beef The Star Of Your Casseroles

single portion of casserole
single portion of casserole - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Corned beef comes out of the can as a solid pink loaf, but it doesn't need to stay that way. When you heat it up, the fat that holds the meat together melts and drains, leaving you with a mound of fluffy, shredded meat. These intensely flavored shreds are easy to mix into other ingredients, so they're just the thing to bring added punch to your favorite casserole recipes.

The sky's the limit, here, so it's an opportunity to freewheel a little and have fun. Swap out the tuna in your mom's old tuna casserole recipe, and use corned beef instead. Don't have any ground beef? Use corned beef instead. No ham, no bacon? No problem, corned beef has you covered.

Whether you base your casserole around pasta, hash browns, or grains, corned beef will fit in just fine. It'll be right at home, surrounded by starch, vegetables, cheese, and whichever sauce you choose. Corned beef will infuse them all with flavor, and they in turn will help mute the beef's saltiness. It's a win-win.

Feature Corned Beef At Your Next Party

taquitos on plate
taquitos on plate - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

When you think of party food, which options pop into your head first: Chips and dip? Nachos? Trays of appetizers on crackers or toast rounds? Combinations of these show up at almost every party, because, well... they're tasty, and fun.

And here's the thing. You can incorporate corned beef into a lot of those things, and save yourself time and money in the process (you can get corned beef for a lot less than fancy charcuterie). All it takes is a few other ingredients and a willingness to think outside the, uh... can.

Seriously, there are so many savory ways to prepare canned beef that are party-friendly. Start with a corned beef dip, maybe, or scatter drained corned beef over your nachos to bulk them up, or make corned beef taquitos or mini-tacos. Put corned beef, cheese, and a slice of pickle or hot pepper on crackers or toast rounds, and heat them just long enough to melt the cheese. If you're not afraid to get messy, you could even use it to top loaded fries or poutine.

Tour The World With Canned Corned Beef

Philippine corned beef and eggs
Philippine corned beef and eggs - Loybuckz/Shutterstock

Despite its dowdy perception here at home, canned corned beef has been embraced as an ingredient worldwide. For adventurous home cooks, that means the can or two you keep in your pantry can be used as the base for a range of dishes that span much of the globe.

Cooks in the Philippines use canned corned beef in a number of creative ways, for example (that's arguably the country where canned corned beef is most popular). You'll often see it there at breakfast time alongside eggs and a mound of garlic-fried rice, or perhaps cooked into the rice. It's also cooked into soups and stews, and there's even a local version of corned beef hash served over rice.

Don't stop there, now that your world tour is underway. Canned corned beef can become the protein ingredient in your fried rice dish, or in wontons. For a European spin, ditch the wonton wrappers and make corned beef ravioli instead. Use it instead of the ground beef in cottage pie, or swap it for the sausage that wraps your Scotch Egg. Put it in a burrito, or on a pizza. These are just a few of the world's unique canned corned beef creations, and doubtless, you can come up with many more of your own.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.