The salt beef from Brick Lane Beigel Bake is obviously not imitable, but I thought I’d try to get back in touch with my Jewish roots and get salting that brisket.
Most recipes I found for salt beef (or corned beef, as the Americans have it) were for big hunks of meat, typically 2-3kgs. I didn’t want to commit to that, so I got a 0.75kg rolled brisket from the supermarket for the first time. And it worked a treat. I used the method detailed in the brilliant Cured by Lindy Wildsmith, which is a compendium of curing methods, from salting and smoking to pickling and brining.
The whole process takes around a week, but it’s really easy, and the rewards are well worth your patience. I’ll give the method for a 0.75kg hunk of meat, but just multiply according to the size you choose.
Method for a 0.75kg brisket:
For the salt rub:
- 90g sea salt
- 40g Demerara sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1tsp whole pickling spice
- 1 crumbled bay leaf
- 1/2tsp crushed black peppercorns
Mix all the ingredients for the rub together. Pierce the brisket with a carving fork all over, and sub in the salt mixture. Place in a container or bowl, cover with a lid or plate, and then with a cloth. Place weight on top and put in the fridge for 7-10 days (I did just 7). You’ll see how much liquid comes out from the brisket over the curing period, so although you’ll have to wait 7 days, you can see the magic happening.
After the 7 days, remove the brisket, wash thoroughly and soak in fresh water overnight in the fridge.
Cooking day (finally!)
For the cooking water you’ll need:
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 8 bay leaves
- handful of peppercorns
Place the meat in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, and add the above ingredients to the water. Bring to a gentle simmer, and leave for about an hour and a half. Turn the heat off and leave for half an hour, or until you’re ready to serve.
For me, serving on great rye or brown bread, with pickle and a good schmear of hot english mustard is essential. I cut the brisket into thickish slices, but you can do it however you want.
So the verdict? Its great. So delicious. Not quite the bagel shack, but its pretty darn close. Give it a go, you won’t regret it.