Making homemade salt beef sounds intimidating but could not be easier and the results are pretty spectacular.
Happy 2015! Hope you all had a wonderful NYE and aren’t feeling too worse for wear today. Ours was very laid-back but Prosecco and a couple of Red Queen cocktails were involved…
This homemade salt beef was made recently but I never got a chance to blog the recipe in 2014. It is something that was on my to-make list for such a long time and having now made it once I can say it is freaking fantastic! And so E A S Y. Really, really easy.
My husband, who occasionally gets misty-eyed when remembering the Montreal smoked meat of his youth, was in food heaven! We ate our salt beef piled-high on rye bread with mustard and pickles. It really was incredible and didn’t last longer than a day.
MAKING HOMEMADE SALT BEEF
Before you decide to make homemade salt beef there’s a few things you will need.
- A large container that can contain the submerged meat and brining liquid plus a weight (see below). A large plastic box is best or you can use the container of your slow cooker as I did. Make sure you check the container fits in your fridge before starting this recipe!
- To ensure meat is completely submerged and will remain submerged for the entire duration of the curing process you will need to weigh it down. Add a plate on top of the meat and weigh it down with something heavy like a water bottle.
- Salt: use pickling salt or kosher salt.
- Curing salt (Prague Powder No 1) – this is not essential to the recipe but will give the salt beef its characteristic pink-red colour. Read more about it below.
- Herbs and spices
Using Prague Powder No 1
Prague Powder No 1 contains sodium nitrite. It is often coloured pink in order to distinguish it for regular salt – don’t confuse it with Himalayan Pink Salt! Curing salt prevents bacteria from forming and maintains the meat’s red colour.
Prague Powder 1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite 93.75% salt. It is also called Instacure #1 or Pink Curing Salt #1. The brand is not important, so long as it contains 6.25% sodium Nitrite.
The usual ratio for this cure is 1 teaspoon of curing salt per 5lb (2.27kg) of meat, that is around 2.5g per 1kg of meat. However this rule does not apply to brining.
Since this recipe is using the curing salt diluted in water as a brining solution, 30g (2 tbsp) for 5 litres (1.3 gallons) of water is within the recommended limits for brining that’s up to 7 days, as in this recipe.
PLEASE NOTE: not all curing salts are the same and they are not interchangeable. Always refer to the packet instructions to calculate precise amounts to use, bearing in mind the weight of the meat, length of brining process and amount of water.
Prague Powder No.1 can be purchased online, but it is not essential to this recipe. However you must use it if you want the beef to have that characteristic pink/red colour. It is important that you weigh the curing salt accurately, so if you haven’t got a digital scale, now’s the time to invest in one.
I recently made homemade pastrami, which follows a similar process except it is smoked instead of boiled at the end, and uses slightly different spices. What can I say other than OMG I need to make again and obviously blog the recipe! Watch this space 🙂
Have you made my homemade salt beef?
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Homemade salt beef
- 2.25 kg | 5 pounds rolled beef brisket
- 600 g | 1lb 3oz salt
- 2 tbsp | 30 g / 1oz Prague Powder no 1 (SEE NOTES)
- 5 liters | 170 fl oz hot water
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp allspice
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Dissolve the salt and Prague Powder in the hot water. Add all the spices and then let it cool.
- Immerse the brisket in the cold brine, add a plate on top and use a weight to keep the meat submerged for the duration of the brining process.
- Store in the fridge for a week, turning the brisket every day to distribute the salt.
- After 7 days, rinse the meat very, very thoroughly a few times using cold water.
- Place it in a large pot full of water and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-4 hours depending on size. Once meat is tender remove from pot and transfer to a warm dish.
- Slice thinly (only slice as much as you need) and serve piled high on rye bread with mustard and pickles. You can warm the sliced salt beef in the microwave before making the sandwiches.
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