Saturday, December 12, 2009

The salt beef sandwich

Now I've played around with salting my brisket for up to 10 days in a variety of seasoning mixtures, but to be perfectly honest with you, doing it this way without the need for a lengthy marinading process yields just as good a result, just so long as you have cracking good rye bread, proper English mustard and a decent bit of pickle, you simply cannot go far wrong. Having just got back from a quick London trip, I must confess to not one, but two salt beef sandwich moments at Selfridges Brass Rail, the very best in a mid afternoon pick me up for the weary pre Christmas shopper. So, as terrific as they are on Oxford Street, at £7.50 a pop, and that's before a pickle and a drink, here's a way of re-creating at home while saving a bit to fill out the Christmas stockings a bit fatter.

1.5kg salted silverside or brisket beef
2 large onions
6 cloves
Small blade mace
¼ whole nutmeg
12 bruised black peppercorns

Place the beef into a pot that will allow room for the onions but still provide a fairly snug fit.

Leave the onions unpeeled, push the cloves evenly into them and tuck them down by the beef.

Put in the spices and peppercorns and cover the beef with warm water to cover by 1cm and bring to the simmer, cooking at a bare tremor for 3 ½ hours, skimming as necessary throughout the cooking time.

If the cooking water tastes really salty after the first 10 minutes, drain it and start again. The water should not boil at any stage, so cover the pot only when you are happy the pot is trembling and not bubbling.

Remove from the simmering liquid onto a warm plate and cover with foil untill the beef has cooled enough to handle and carve without the whole thing collapsing on you.

Slice generously, no need to be dainty here, whack between a couple of slices of rye bread, but for that matter any soft bread of your choice will be fine, and serve with as much English mustard as your nostrils can accept and something pickled on the side. Shopping interlude heaven...