Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Project: Salt Beef - Part I

This evening saw the start of a major foodie project: I'm having a go at making my own salt beef.

This has been prompted by my desire to emulate the amazing salt beef bagels from Brick Lane and the very good Birley salt beef sandwiches which I have recently been introduced to by a colleague as a "pay day treat".

What could be better than a vast quantity of salt beef on tap? In fact Jess (said colleague mentioned above) is also joining me in the quest for pink beef joy.

Initial research revealed that saltpetre (potassium nitrate) is required to keep the beef characteristically pink. A little help from the internet was required to locate the requisite chemical.

Once this arrived we ordered the beef brisket from Drings which we picked up on Monday. Yesterday saw the purchase of the plastic boxes.

4lb of prime beef brisket ready for the curative brine. The beef fat I've rendered down to be used for some lovely roasties at some point in the future.

After an exhaustive search on the internet for an appropriate recipe we finally settled on this one from Martha Stewart. Although with input from other recipes I've adapted it a little (see below for the low down on what I actually did). So this morning I made the brine and this evening put my brisket into its salty bath.

Now all that's left to do is to wait 10 days to see the fruits of my labour...

Recipe for salt beef:

15g (half a jar) pickling spices
1 cup Maldon sea salt
2.3l water
~4lb beef brisket, trimmed of fat
1 bulb garlic, slice through its equator
½cup soft brown sugar
4 bay leaves
1dsp saltpetre

1. Firstly make the brine by putting all the ingredients except the saltpetre and garlic into a large pot and bring to the boil. Stir until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
2. Take the pot off the heat and leave to cool COMPLETELY.
3. Trim the beef.
4. Put the cold brine into the plastic box and mix in the garlic and saltpetre.
5. Completely immerse the beef in the brine. Use a bowl to weight it down if required.
6. Turn the beef daily (use tongs to prevent bacteria from your hands entering the brine)
7. Leave for 10 days to two weeks.

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