Corned beef is a brine-cured beef. The term "corn" in corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary defines corn to mean "a small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt." Potassium nitrate (saltpeter) is often added to the brine to preserve the beef's pink color.
Originating in Ireland, references to Corned Beef can be found in writings dating back to the 12th century. 
Canada and the United States
In the United States and Canada, corned beef typically comes in two forms, a cut of beef (usually brisket, but sometimes round or silverside) cured or pickled in a seasoned brine, and canned (pre-cooked).
In the U.S., corned beef is often purchased ready to eat in delicatessens. It is the key ingredient in the grilled Reuben sandwich, consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island or Russian dressing on rye bread.
Corned beef hash is commonly served with eggs for breakfast.
Smoking corned beef, typically with a generally similar spice mix, produces the cold cut known as pastrami.
In both the U.S. and Canada some corned beef is sold in cans in minced form, usually imported from South America.
In the United Kingdom, the term corned beef refers to the tinned (canned) variety made from finely minced corned beef in a small amount of gelatin (bully beef; from the French bouilli "boiled"), and is sold in distinctive oblong-shaped cans, just as in the U.S. and Canada, or in slices from supermarkets. It is mainly imported from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Bully beef and biscuits were the main field rations of the British Army from the Boer War to World War 2. It is commonly served sliced in a Corned beef sandwich. Hash and hotpot, in which potatoes and corned beef are stewed together, are also made. Tinned corned beef is also used in mainland Europe.
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