On my last trip to London Town, We, as is becoming customary, went to the fantastic Borough Market for breakfast.
I opted for a delicious sounding Salt Beef sandwich with mustard and pickles. It was superb, soft and juicy, not overly salty beef, crunchy pickles accompanied by the burn of English Mustard all served in between a thick slice of sourdough bread.
Stop imagining it and have a look....
On my return home, I had a browse through River Cottage Meat to see if there was a recipe in there and lo and behold on page 438 there it was.
It's a slow recipe that can take the best part of a fortnight to make depending on the size of beef and the amount of salty flavour you want. I only had a small cut of brisket so I left mine in the brine for 5 days (up to 10 for bigger cuts) before fresh water soaking for 24 hours and then poached for just under two hours.
Ingredients (for a kilo of brisket)
1kg of brisket
2.5 litres of wate
250g brown sugar
750g sea salt
1/2tsp black pepper
1/2tsp juniper berries
2 bay leaves
Sprig of thyme
Water to cover
1 bouquet garni
1 of each chopped: carrot, onion, leek
1/2 garlic bulb, sliced horizontally
Make the brine by adding all the ingredients to large pan and bring to the boil until the salt/sugar dissolves completely. Leave to cool
Once cool, place the beef into a plastic bowl or similar (not metal), covered with the brine for 5 days, any longer for a cut this size will be too much and completely pickle it. Weigh it down if required with a small plate.
After 5 days, drain the brine and replace with cold fresh water for 24 hours, change the water once during this time.
Add all the vegetables, herbs and beef into a large pan, cover with water and bring to a gently simmer for 2 hours.
Remove from the pan, leave to rest then serve.
The result was a juicy and surprisingly tender piece of beef a bit different from the one in Borough Market but I suspect that had been slow cooked for the best part of a day and used saltpetre which preserves the colour of beef. never the less, it was very good, not my first choice for a Sunday lunch but in between some good bread with fried onions and mustard it was delicious.