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Cheesefiend

Salt beef project

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    I usually make this once a month on average and it always goes down a treat with the family. This sounds complex but really it’s chucking it all in and mostly waiting. It’s also well worth the effort for exceptionally savoury and tender beef that will last you for days and days.

    First of all you want to pick up a nice piece of fatty beef brisket, the fattier the better as it adds flavour.

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    INGREDIENTS

     

    For the brine 
    275g (9¾oz) soft light-brown sugar 
    350g (12oz) coarse sea salt 
    2 tablespoons black peppercorns (whole) 
    ½ tablespoon crushed juniper berries
    1 tablespoon mustard seeds
    1 tablespoon coriander seeds
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds
    1 teaspoon caraway seeds
    4 cloves 
    6 bay leaves 
    4 sprigs of thyme
    Plus any other spices etc that you fancy, and most importantly:
    55g (2oz) Prague powder no.1 (you can find this fairly cheap online 
    https://www.homecuring.co.uk/products/cure-1-prague-powder-number-one  If you don’t use this the meat ends up a weird unappetising grey colour. This also helps break down the stringy connective tissue in the meat).
    2.5kg+ (5lb 8oz+) piece of beef brisket. Size doesn’t really matter too much as long as you have plenty of brine at the right concentration of salt. The piece in the pics was almost 8lb and I used the same recipe.

    I toast all the spices in a frying pan to open them up a bit. I then put all the ingredients for the brine into a very large saucepan, pour in 2.5 litres (4½ pints) of water and gradually bring to the boil, stirring to help the sugar and salt dissolve. Once it comes to the boil, simmer for two minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely.

    Pierce the meat all over with a skewer, making sure it’s well perforated. If in doubt, keep stabbing it. The more holes it has the more flavour will soak in. 
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    Put the beef in a large, sterilised plastic box or bucket (something non-reactive/not metal) and cover the meat with the cold brine; it must be totally immersed. The best thing I've found for weighing it down is a small plastic chopping board and some large (cleaned!) pebbles. Put them on top of the meat and it will stay below the level of the brine. 
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    Leave in a very cool, dark place and turn the meat once a day so that the salt mixture penetrates throughout. I keep it in the cupboard under the stairs. Re-cover with chopping boards & weights/pebbles. Leave it for at least seven days. The liquid will get darker over time, nothing to worry about.

    After 7-10 days it should look like this:
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    Take the beef out of the brine and rinse it well in cold water, getting rid of as many seeds etc as you can. Some people soak it overnight but I’ve never felt the need.
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    Roll and tie the meat with butchers string. This will be harder than fresh as the meat should now be fairly flat, and a fair bit stiffer due to the salt curing it.
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    You will now need the following ingredients for the stock:
    1 large carrot, roughly chopped 
    1 onion, roughly chopped 
    1 celery stick, roughly chopped 
    1 leek, cut into chunks about an inch long
    1 bouquet garni (buy the teabag style ones from the herbs and spices section in a supermarket if making it yourself is too much of a faff)
    1 bulb of garlic chopped in half sideways

    Put the beef in a pan and add the stock veg etc above, then add enough cold water to cover the meat completely. You may need a very big pan (or cut the beef roll in half or use two pans). 
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    Bring the water to simmering point, then leave to poach *very* gently for three to six hours, or until a skewer goes through the meat with hardly any resistance. The longer and slower it’s cooked the better. Top up with a small amount of water if any beef starts poking up to the surface.
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    While this is simmering, I make Russian dressing as it is tangy and spicy and goes perfectly with the beef.

    Russian Dressing
    Approx 2 Banana shallots or 4 round shallots, very finely chopped

    14 tablespoons (!) mayonnaise
    4 tablespoons ketchup
    1 Tablespoon horseradish sauce
    2 teaspoons hot sauce (try not to use Tabasco, as it’s too vinegary)
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon mustard powder
    ½ teaspoon smoked paprika 
    Tiny bit of ground black pepper

    Mix it all all until uniformly pink, then use greaseproof paper or a funnel to syphon into a squeezy ketchup bottle or similar. Keeps in the fridge for about a week. This seems like it makes a lot of sauce (and yes, it does) but you will also have loads of amazing beef to eat through too.
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    When the beef is done you can then either slice it or tear it apart with a pair of forks.
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    Serve hot with mustard and boiled potatoes, or my absolute favourite as a Rueben sandwich. I leave it to cool then only cut off what I need (sliced thinly but piled high) and microwave the meat for 30seconds. I then add it hot to a couple of slices of toasted sourdough bread with a pile of sauerkraut, topped with melted Swiss cheese (a catering blowtorch-style burner is ideal for this) and a splodge of Russian dressing (recipe above).
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    Enjoy! It’s the best beef I’ve ever eaten and will knock anything from the shops into a cocked hat. 
    Keep the unused beef wrapped tightly in cling film to keep it moist and it will store in the fridge for a week, if it lasts that long.

    Edited by Cheesefiend

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    Impessive! Ive just eatrn and now im starving! I will be doing this in the coming weeks when i get the ingredients. Thanks for sharing this! 

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    Decent butchers string that doesn’t snap and the Prague Powder are the most difficult to find, everything else can be picked up easily.

    Brisket seems to be much cheaper at a proper butchers, supermarkets charge an arm and a leg in comparison and it works out at least twice the price in my experience. 

    It seems like a major undertaking but it is pretty straightforward, I promise!

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    way back when I was a butcher, I used to do the pickling for my customers, beef tongue was in great demand for the festive season, also used to do quite a lot of joints of silverside, it carves better for presentation on the table, I will admit to just buying the brine mix from the butchers sundriesman,

    brine tub was handy for when you cut yourself, just stick your hand in and give it a stir, cauterised and sterilised in one

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    Now this looks like it'd be very nice done in the smoker! 

    My brother has just asked me to build a hot smoker so I'll get him to get the brisket! 

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