A small collection of village folk arrived at the residence today for a luncheon. Well, in my own way, I felt this mostly Christian band could do with some good and honest Jewish sustenance (albeit cooked by an atheist), so Salt Beef would be the main event.
Where I was brought up many of our neighbours were Jewish, mostly from families who had emigrated to this country arriving in the East End of London. Salt Beef was very much a part of their culture and when I visited with my friends, it seemed to be a regular event at lunch.
Now, I have to admit that I did not do the brining myself this time round as our butchers, Parrott Bros in Whitchurch, Bucks have a briner and were happy to do the job. They are also the proud owners of the famous, award winning Beechmoor Herd of Aberdeen Angus, so their beef is well worth trying.
However, I thoroughly recommend you do brine your own – it really is pretty easy and there are recipes everywhere.
So, onto the lunch.
Cooking Salt Beef
I picked up the beef from its two-week soak in the briner at the weekend, and at eight this morning, started cooking it in a large pot, completely covered with water and with added carrots, celery, a whole head of garlic, tablespoon of peppercorns, a teaspoon of nutmeg, some coriander seeds, an onion, and 3 red beetroot.
That lot cooked for four hours at a gently rolling simmer. I served it up hot together with Rye bread I made yesterday and pickled cucumber that we made a couple of months ago – a really, fresh tasting pickle with lots of spices in it.
It went down well, even if the genteel village folk insisted in eating it with a knife and fork. Well, except the one lady from Ohio, who took one look at the fare and shoved a huge pile of beef between two slices of rye, complete with mustard and pickle and sat there happily munching through the lot. Now, that was a lady who knows her salt beef!
But however you eat it, do eat it! In the UK we have mangled the wonderful salt beef into tins of less than interesting corned beef and seemed to have forgotten this low cost but truly wonderful meal made from brisket. It doesn’t even need to be the best beef around! This will make a meal out of just about anything.
So, don’t let the trendy London media types in Soho be the only ones to eat great hot piles of beef and mustard, go buy a brisket and get brining! You will love it.