Corned beef is a popular beef product that you will most likely find around when St. Patrick’s Day rolls over. It is an exciting type of beef that can be consumed alone or used in recipes for sandwiches and much more.
Enjoying corned beef is one of the many joys of having festivities around the corner. However, if you’re looking to switch things up this year, you might be looking to get some substitutes and see how they perform.
So, what is the best substitute for corned beef? Among the multitudes of corned beef substitutes, pastrami has grown to be the most popular. This corned beef substitute is famous for having a similar texture profile and set of applications. While they might not exactly taste the same way, pastrami remains the most excellent substitute you can find.
An Overview of Corned Beef
As its name suggests, corned beef is a type of beef. It is usually made through salt-curing beef – especially brisket. Many prefer brisket since they are tough and can be made softer through a long salt-curing process. The beef is also brined, after which it becomes tender and easy to cut.
Corned beef got its name from the manufacturing process. You take a slice of beef and cover it in “corns” (essentially, large pellets of salt) to dry-cure it. The process removes all moisture and ensures that bacteria don’t grow on the beef.
Today, corned beef is especially famous as a regular fixture in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. However, it is also an ideal snack for just about everything. You can add it to sandwiches, burgers, etc. As long as it’s got your taste buds rocking, you can have fun with corned beef.
Why Replace Corned Beef?
- Taste differences: If you’re tired of the same corned beef taste every year, you might be looking to try something else. So, a substitute will do fine.
- Allergies: Allergies to beef are actually more common than you might think. For people with allergies, there are some substitutes for corned beef that could work nicely.
- Dietary changes: Corned beef is famous for having a relatively high calorie content. If you’re on a strict diet, then you would want to substitute it with something else.
Options for Corned Beef Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Corned Beef: Pastrami
Anyone with cooking experience will be able to tell this option straight away. Pastrami and corned beef are so similar, many tend to mistake them for one another or believe they’re the same thing. However, that’s not quite the same.
For one, corned beef and pastrami differ in terms of their nature. As its name states, corned beef is made of just beef – whatever form that takes. On the flip side, pastrami could be made of turkey, mutton, or pork. So, you see the difference there.
Due to their differing sources, corned beef and pastrami don’t precisely taste alike. Corned beef has the conventional beef taste, while your pastrami will taste like the meat source you used in making it. There is also bound to be some difference based on the preparation method. Corned beef and pastrami can be smoked or cured, so you will need to consider the preparation method in your choice.
You can use corned beef and pastrami for the same things, so don’t bother about application differences. In fact, your ability to use them interchangeably in sandwiches and more is why pastrami is such an excellent corned beef substitute.
You can also use pastrami however you like. There’s no exact recommended usage volume, so it’s almost impossible to say if this is a one-for-one substitute. Just go with your taste buds and see what they like. If you’re satisfied with the taste, you’re good to go. However, as always, remember to start small and work your way up in your recipe.
Best Substitute for Flavor Considerations: Roast Beef
If you’re after the flavor, then roast beef might be your best bet. It takes a while to prepare, but the effort is usually worth it. When you consider that you can also eat the roast beef’s leftovers, you’ll find that this is an ideal substitute in general.
Roast beef primarily works as a corned beef substitute in the famous Reuben sandwich. It is a form of deli meat that comes with a rich and salty flavor, so you’re not missing much at all.
As explained earlier, the only challenge you might have with roast beef is that it takes a longer time to make. You will have to do a lot of roasting to get it right, so roast beef might not be your ideal choice if you’re in a time crunch. However, if you can take the time out, you’ll be more than impressed with the result.
Best Vegetarian Option: Flavored Protein Rolls
If you’re a vegetarian and would prefer to also spruce your dishes up this St. Patrick’s Day, you can easily do that with some flavored protein rolls. Today, there are pre-cooked protein rolls made of soy, eggs, and milk.
These rolls are flavored with some corned beef spices, allowing you to enjoy the corned beef essence without actually eating meat. Interestingly, this can also work if you have beef allergies.
Vegetarian corned beef substitutes work great, and they are also readily available in grocery stores. You can cut slices and use them in sandwiches, and you can also heat them for your dinner entrees with the usual side options.
However, keep in mind that you want to check to ensure that all of the ingredients are okay with you. Some protein rolls could incorporate actual beef, and you don’t want that triggering your allergies or vegetarian preferences.