When I lived in London I was obsessed with salt beef bagels. It wasn’t a hipster affectation, nor was it a mark of a heritage steeped in salt beef and lox. It was just pure and simple greed for something that tastes so good, (especially when consumed at say 3am after a few gins) it’s hard to stop at one. I have never been a woman who could be accused of ordering light.
But I don’t live in London now. I haven’t for some time. And every so often I find myself dreaming of those salt beef bagels on a bed of tart cream cheese, laced with sliced pickles and I sigh. I think of how if only I could have one last taste, one last 3am salt beef bagel bender, then I could hang up my salt beef boots. And then it occurred to me that the answer has been obvious all this time. That I have no need for a Midland Mainline ticket to Brick Lane. Instead all I need is to bloody well make some salt beef myself. Sometimes the most obvious answers are staring you in the face.
So I made it. And it takes a whopping 7 days. Which is a long time for delayed gratification. But I stuck with it and my the results were good. I cannot claim this is a) authentic, b) good for you or c) as good as anything Brick Lane has to offer. But I can say it was easy, tasty and made my dreams of those salt beef bagels just a little less savage. (Oh and if you’re wondering why it’s not pink like the Brick Lane salt beef variety, it’s the omission of salt petre – have a look at the last two recipes below for details of how to use this).
For the best salt beef bagels in London there’s an excellent list here. And another here. And for more salt beef recipes to make at home, that could well be a hell of a lot more authentic than mine, try here and here.
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available through Amazon).
This time last year: Microwave chocolate pudding, Gluten free chocolate coconut cake, Beetroot rolls, Chocolate heart cupcakes, Bramley apple and cinnamon crepe cake, Ikea style meatballs and pancakes.
Two years ago: Rye, spelt & poppy seed rolls, Never fail pancakes, Fluffy sweet potato pancakes, Mars Bar brownies and I wrote a letter to my 15 year old self with all the things I’d wish I’d known over 20 years ago.
- 600g salt
- 300g caster sugar
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp allspice
- 4 bay leaves
- 2kg beef brisket
- 1 bulb (not clove) or garlic
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion, cut in half, skin on
Take a very large saucepan (ensure it fits in your fridge though) and add the salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice and bay leaves along with 3.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cool, add the garlic and beef, weigh down with a saucepan lid that's slightly smaller than the saucepan (you need to ensure the beef is full submerged) and cover with the actual saucepan lid. Refrigerate for 7 days, being sure to check the beef is submerged everyday, turning it too. (Be careful to turn with spoons and tongs rather than your hands to minimise the amount of bacteria introduced). After 7 days wash the beef under cold running water and then simmer in fresh water along with the carrot, onion and celery for 3 hours on the stove. (You can fish out the garlic bulb and peppercorns too if you wish and add them to the mix). You can use the Pressure King Pro to pressure cook the beef on 'meat' setting for 1.5 hours instead if you prefer. Serve sliced in warm toasted bagels with lashings of cream cheese and thinly sliced gherkins.
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