Brisket and other cheaper cuts of beef really benefit from brining before cooking low and slow. Salt beef is one that hits all the pleasure points—fat, salt and deep beefy flavour. It’s great to have it in the fridge because it has so many uses, hot and cold. It’s usually served thickly sliced in bagels with cream cheese bagels, gherkins and dill, or sandwiches with mustard, or broken up and mixed with mashed potatoes or lentils.
2.5kg beef brisket
500g Maldon sea salt
400g demerara sugar
15g saltpetre. Saltpetre isn't mandatory, but it helps the meat maintain a lovely pink colour rather than fading to grey.
6 bay leaves
1 bunch of thyme
2tsp black peppercorns
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 bulb of garlic halved through the equator
3 celery sticks, halved
4 bay leaves
1 bunch of rosemary
1. Prepare the brine. Mix all the ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar and saltpetre. Let it boil for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and leave the brine cool to room temperature.
3. Trim the brisket of excess fat, if necessary. But remember—fat is flavour. Pierce the brisket all over with a skewer.
4. Place the brisket in a plastic or ceramic container. Don't use a metal container because it will taint the meat. Pour over the brine. The brisket may need weighing down. Put the lid on the container and refrigerate for 7 days.
5. After 7 days, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
6. Place the brisket in a large pan with the braising vegetables and pour over enough cold water to cover the meat and vegetables.
7. Bring to the boil. Skim the surface of any debris that builds up. Reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer uncovered for 2.5 to 4 hours until the brisket is tender.
8. Remove the pan from the heat. Leave the brisket cool in the braising liquid. Once cold remove the salt beef form the liquor and pat dry. Cover and chill until needed.
9. Simply slice to serve cold. If you want to serve it hot, keep some of the braising liquid to reheat the slices of salt beef for 1 to 2 minutes.