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Corned beef, a specialty of Jewish and Irish cooking, is a large cut of beef, usually brisket, that is cured for a month in a brine with large crystals (or corns, an Old English term) of salt, sugar, spices, and preservatives. Slow simmering in water develops a moist, tender texture, a mildly spiced flavor, and a bright purplish red color. Good corned beef may be bought whole as a brisket and ready to cook; delicatessens sell it already cooked, either whole or sliced.
In the UK, finely ground corned beef in a small amount of gelatin (also known as bully beef; from the French bouilli ‘boiled’) is sold in distinctive oblong-shaped tin cans.