Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce, and how to cure your own salt beef

Monday 17 March 2014

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

My sister has been curing her own sauerkraut and practicing fermenting quite  a bit over the past year or so.   I have long wanted to try to cure something myself.   I had in mind to do some pickled pork or beef, like they make back home in Nova Scotia.  

I had been searching for a while to get some Salt Petre to do this, or Potassium Nitrate as it is called.   My sister and mother sent me some over in a care package just recently and I have just been waiting for the right to use it. 

 Well . . . there is no better time to corn/preserve/salt a piece of beef than for Saint Patrick's Day and so a few weeks back I set out to do just that.

I admit to being a tad bit nervous about it.  I was worried about spoilage and such. Having had food poisoning a few times in my lifetime, it's not an experience I am eager to replicate.  

However, having found a really decent article on making your own Salt Beef in the March Issue of Delicious magazine by John Torrode (of Master Chef) I felt secure enough to give it a go.   He's a meat master and so I trusted it and went ahead with it.  

I only wish I had the photos to show you of the process.   I started this a couple of weeks ago and they got lost in the mire which is my photo sludge.  (If I don't use them right away, I often lose them.)  

In any case all I have to show you is the end result, which was a delicious recipe for Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce, adapted from the same article, with a few changes.

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

He did not use cabbage in his recipe.  I did.   We love cabbage in this house and it's Saint Patrick's Day.  

You just have to eat cabbage in one form or another.   If you are not fond of cabbage, then I suggest you leave it out.

 Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

Or maybe you just are not fond of boiled cabbage. If so, then just use a savoy cabbage, shred it coarsely and then steam it for about 10 minutes over boiling water.   

Drained well, with a bit of seasoning and Bob's your Uncle.   It's delicious.

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

The real star here is the home cured meat . . . and that lovely sauce.   Just perfect with both the meat and the vegetables.  

You use a portion of the cooking liquor in the sauce.  It calls for whole milk.  I confess, I didn't have any whole milk and so I used 2/3 semi skimmed milk and 1/3 cream.

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

It was just fabulous  . . . all of it and for a home curing virgin, I think I did a pretty darned good job and I will do it again, as  soon as I can get my hands on some more salt petre.  

Having done it once I am not as afraid of it as I was before . . . who knows, making my own sauerkraut might be next!

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

*Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce*
Serves 6 to 8

Salt Beef is essentially corned beef.   This long slow cooking ensures a tender piece of meat and well flavoured vegetables.   You will need to use some of the cooking liquid for the sauce.  Old fashioned and delicious.  

2 kg piece of salt beef, rolled up and tied
(About 5 pounds)
4 large carrots, peeled and cut in half crosswise
4 onions, peeled, stem end intact as much as possible
1 small head of white cabbage, trimmed and cut into thick wedges, kept intact as much as possible
1 stick of celery
3 fresh sage sprigs
4 black peppercorns  

For the sauce:
50g butter (3 1/2 TBS)
50g plain flour (scant 1/3 cup)
200ml of whole milk (7 1/2 fluid ounces)
1 TBS English Mustard Powder
a handful of fresh parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
(chances are you won't need any salt)  

To serve:
boiled potatoes
Buttered brown bread  

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce  

Put the beef into a pot along with the carrots, and onions.   Cover with cold water and add the celery, sage and peppercorns.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and cook, tighty covered for about an hour,  skimming off any scum which rises to the top from time to time. Add the wedges of cabbage and cook, tightly covered, for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.  At the end of that time remove the meat to a large platter and tent to keep warm.   Strain off 300ml (1 1/4 cups) of the cooking liquid and reserve.  Leave the vegetables in the cooking liquor to keep warm.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.   Whisk in the flour and mustard powder.  Cook for about 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the reserved cooking liquor and the milk.  Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and boils.  Cook for a minute.  Remove from the heat.  Bang in the parsley and blitz with a stick blender or in the food processor until you have a greenish sauch with bits of parsley.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Slice the meat if you can, or tear into large chunks.   Serve a portion of meat on heated plates along with a portion of the cooked  vegetables and some boiled potatoes.  Pass the sauce and or mustard if desired, and buttered brown bread.

Salt Beef with Vegetables and a Parsley Sauce

*How to Make Your Own Salt Beef*
Serves 6 to 8
plan on one to two weeks curing in the brine  

Salt Petre, or potassium nitrate, is one of the ingredients used to preserve the meat in a salt brine.  You can possibly get it via a sausage making site.  I got mine from my sister who sent it to me from Canada.  It not only helps to preserve the meat, but also to give it that nice red colour. 

500g of salt mixed with 100g of salt petre (generous 2 cups of salt, I could not find the equivalent of cup measures
for the salt petre.  I suspect it is about 1/2 cup.  If you can't get the salt petre, use 600g of sea salt, or 2 1/2 cups)
300g soft dark brown sugar (1 1/2 cups packed)
2.25 lires of freshly boiled water and 750ml ice cold water
(9 1/2 cups boiled water and a generous 3 cups ice cold water)
25g whole coriander seeds (2 TBS)
6 black peppercorns
6 allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
3 bay leaves
2 kg of BONELESS beef topside or brisket
(Do NOT use bone in meat or your meat will rot rather than cure.  Cut off any large chunks of fat and discard) 

Put the salt and salt petre into a large pan with the hot water and brown sugar.   Bring to the boil.   While you are waiting for the water to boil, place all of the spices, with the exception of the bay leaves, into a very hot large skillet.  Take the skillet off the heat and shake the pan to toast the spices  Get a piece of muslin and tie the spices up in it and drop it into the boiling water along with the bay leaves.  Boil for 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the ice cold water.  Leave until completely cold.  Once it is completely cold, put the meat in, making sure it is completely submerged.  If it trys to float, weight it down with a few tins, and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid.  Place in the refrigerator and leave for 10 to 14 days.  The thicker your piece of meat the longer you will want to leave it.  Longer is better and up to 14 days will ensure a proper cure.  It is important that the meat stay completely submerged. Once cured, it will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, or a bit longer if you have used salt petre.  It will last up to 3 months, properly wrapped,  in the freezer.

newmans own hot dog sauce

I just have to tell you about this new Smokin' Hot Dog Sauce from Newman's Own.   I was sent a bottle of it last week and we have fallen in love with it.   It's absolutely gorgeous and went really well with the salt beef also.

 From this spring, Smokin' Hot Dog Sauce from all-profits-to-charity brand Newman's Own will be available from Morrisons stores here in the UK.  Available later this month, the sauce will launch in time for the summer BBQ season and will form part of a new American Condiments range to be rolled out throughout the year.  This is only the first thing of what will be a few products. 

I have to say it's the most delicious hotdog sauce I have ever eaten.  We had it with some of our salt beef of course, but we've also enjoyed it on a few hot dogs, and in truth I could eat the stuff with a spoon.  It's sweet, and smoky and has some sassy spice going on!   I could eat it with a spoon!   It will be rolled out in the Morrison's chain of supermarkets later this month retailing at £1.89 per bottle and is worth every finger licking penny.  What's nice about the Newman's Own products as well is that all of the profits are given over to a variety of charities.   Win/win!


  1. Don't you love great experiiments?
    I know Jacques is always so happy when his curing is spot on:) Well done!

  2. Your recipes are always so delicious looking. I would love to invite you to share your recipe at my linky party, meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up. :)

  3. Jacques is a master compared to me MOnique! It is still early days for me! I did love the experience though!

    THanks April!

  4. You can buy food grade saltpetre on amazon:)

  5. Thanks Julie, that would be a lot better than having to beg my family to send me some! xx


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