Surprise Me Salt Beef
As you know I am presently possessed by my dreams of becoming a master butcher and wiling away my days slaving over an aga somewhere in the depths of the Norfolk countryside braising, grilling, roasting and poaching my way to Nirvana. My partner(s) in crime in this mission is (are) of course my local butcher.
I use the Flock and Herd on Bellenden Road. It’s an awesome little place, has beautiful free-range meat, and I highly recommend, if you are in the area, stopping by to see what they have, or even just for a chat. They are a lovely duo and are clearly passionate about what they do and the service and meat they provide.
I popped in and asked for a surprise and was handed a substantial slab of uncooked salt beef to do with what I would. So this is what I did, how I did it and how it turned out… not too shabby if I do say so myself.
I resisted the urge to serve it with the classic mustard and gherkin/sauerkraut on rye bread, though the though of that is making me want to tear back into Peckham and make this all over again. Drooling over. Instead I chose to dish it up with carrot and swede smash (pretentious term for lumpy mash) and a wholegrain mustard creamed leek bake. Though for photographic purposes I presented it the trad way as the colours just look so irresistible together.
Uncooked salt beef (you can salt the brisket yourself in brine, but this already done for me, lazy bones, I know)
2-3 Bay leaves
A sprig of thyme
1 White onion
Half a tbspn black peppercorns
Fill a large stockpot with water and add all your herbs and flavourings. You can add different herbs of your choosing but I tried these out (as this was all a make-it-up-as-you-go-along experiment) and I thought they worked supremely well. Place the beef in the pot so it is totally submerged and leave to simmer away. C’est tout!
The recipes I read said to leave it for 2-4 hours like this. I left mine for 4 hours and in hindsight it could have done with 5 if I wanted it to be utterly melting, but this slightly firmer version would be great for sandwiches. It all depends on what meat you get really, but it is done when a skewer will slide with surprising ease through the middle. Not one to do in a rush but on a slow rainy Sunday, ahead of the working week, this is a very satisfying recipe to have a play with.