Sunday, 11 April 2010

Cooking disasters: Corned Beef Casserole

I nearly began this post with the picture of the Corned Beef Casserole I cooked on Tuesday night, but decided it might put people off from reading any further.

Recently I bought two old cookbooks from a second hand bookshop. One of them was an American book, first printed in 1942.
I decided that as an "experiment" I would cook something from the book. This book not only has 1300 tested recipes, but also contains cooking and nutritional advice. Did you know that vitamin B1 is "For good appetite, good digestion and steady nerves"?

I decided to go for Corned Beef Casserole because I already had most of the ingredients and would just need a tin of corned beef. My mum used to make Corned Beef Casserole but it was completely different to the one in this book: it had corned beef, baked beans and potatoes in it and it was one of my favourite dinners as a child. This version of Corned Beef Casserole, however, contains the following:

4 cups cooked rice
2 cups cubed cooked or canned corned beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 No. 2 can (or 2 1/2 cups cooked) tomatoes (no idea what a "no. 2 can" is, so I just used a standard 400g tin of tomatoes)
1 tsp salt
Few grains pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Now, first things first, I can't deal with working in cups. This tends to be why I avoid American recipes. We have cup measures, but I don't understand in my head how much each thing is, so I can't visualise what 2 cups of corned beef looks like, unlike when I work in grams or litres etc. I can even work in pounds and ounces better than I can work in cups. Cups give me a headache. Especially when they ask for something like "1/4 cup chopped onion". Why can't it just say 1 small onion or something? That makes much more sense to me.

Secondly, 1 tsp of salt when you're already using salty canned corned beef is an awful lot. I would never normally put that much salt in any of my cooking, but for the purposes of the "experiment", I did. I could feel my arteries shrivelling in horror as I did it.

Everything was put into a casserole dish (for some reason you were meant to put alternate layers of rice and beef and then mixed the rest of the ingredients and pour over the top) and then cooked for 30 minutes. Here was the result:

It tasted like ass. It was so salty, I couldn't get the taste out of my mouth for hours after eating some of it. I served it with some nice bread and butter and we both agreed that the bread and butter was tastier than the dinner. The dinner tasted of corned beef and salt. If you like those two things, go ahead and cook this. If, however, you are sane and have tastebuds, please don't put yourself through the trauma.


  1. Hi there!

    I usually read your blog, but I suck at commenting *shame on me*
    When reading the above post something struck me... You did notice that it was a tea spoon of salt, not a tablespoon? I usually get confused by the abbreviations, seeing that I m used to the swedish abbreviations :) Just checking :D
    Keep up the good food work - love reading about it!
    /Annika xx

  2. Yep, I only put a teaspoon in, but 1 whole teaspoon + already salty corned beef = SALT OVERLOAD! :) Glad you enjoy the blog! x

  3. I have found it difficult to find a good table and tea spoon in the english shops. The once I am used to from Sweden are smaller (?!?!? what the... sort of...)
    I usully think of a teaspoon as 5 millilitre, and a tablespoon of 15 millilitres, which helps a bit.

    Enjoying your balcony garden project. I am currently in Sweden, so haven't been around to do any plants or things yet! Might try some sallad and strawberries again this year!!

  4. I have a set of measuring spoons which are exact measurements for tsp, tbsp etc. and very handy for recipes where you need to be more accurate! I actually got mine from Ikea!

    Oooh, home-grown strawberries would be divine. Don't think I have room this year, but maybe next year. :)

  5. Thank you so much for posting this disaster! They are instructive, aren't they? And they are amusing ... after enough time passes, anyway.

    I will apologize for American measurements. I did learn (at least I don't think I am making this up), that "cups" evolved as a measurement from our Pennsylvania Dutch (very famous in American cuisine for kitchen equipment as well as recipes) and was simply a small tea cup, filled. I know what you mean about needing to picture it, though. So important to have a visual sense.