It started with a Salt Beef croquette – simple enough I thought. Of course I didn’t want ready cooked beef – I wanted to cook my own salt beef, also my thinking was that if I buy enough salt beef I can use the remainder for a couple of other dishes. I visited the local butchers and supermarket meat sections – nothing. Not to be deterred I then travelled a bit further, still no salt beef. Then even further – still no luck. At which point I began researching recipes to make my own salt beef from scratch – well at least from a piece of raw brisket.
The key to salt beef is saltpetre (potassium nitrate) this gives the beef that pink colour even when well cooked. Saltpetre has been used as a preservative and additive since the middle ages, as well as for medicinal purposes, although I was a little alarmed to discover it is also used as a rocket propellant, and is an ingredient in gunpowder. As I was determined to make the real thing this ….didn’t put me off – I went shopping for saltpetre.
I tried the most obvious places first – the local pharmacies and kitchen stores – then a few more places – specialty spice shops, again nothing. Then onto Amazon – where I found it and immediately placed my order. In due course the saltpetre arrived and I could now progress to making salt beef. Back to the recipe – ah, I need pickling spice so off to the butcher for a good piece of brisket and then to the supermarket for pickling spice. Success at the butcher but total failure at the supermarket.
Then onto the pickling spice hunt that lasted for 12 assorted supermarkets, stores and stalls. All the more frustrating knowing that I have a packet in the kitchen in Paris. Oh well, finally discussing my problem with Cheri she asked why I didn’t just make my own pickling spice. So back to google and start researching the ingredients for pickling spice. A lengthy list later and 4 different stores and I had the necessary ingredients. Not just for a large jar of pickling spice (probably enough to keep me in pickles for the remainder of this decade, but also enough of the individual ingredients to spice an Arabian nights wedding for 300 …..
Whoopee! I was finally ready to start actually preparing something in the kitchen.
Then the brine and meat altogether in a ziploc bag and into the bottom of the fridge for 2 weeks.
Now the cooked and shredded beef….
And once done I could start preparing my croquettes…
And so the verdict…
Were they great, were they fantastic, were they worth all the effort and long wait?
Well they were good, maybe even better than good, but definitely not worth all the effort. Maybe next time round they will stand up to well to the expended effort.
All in all a good learning experience and I will definitely use the excess ingredients for other recipes.
See previous blog for the recipe for Pickling Spice
Then the brine – here’s what you need:
2 litres water
½ cup salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon pickling spice
1 kg brisket
Put the water, salt, sugar and spice into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow the liquid to cool and then put the brisket into a Ziploc bag along with the cooled liquid. And then place it in the bottom of the fridge for 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks drain the liquid off the brisket, put the meat into a large bowl covered with cold water and leave for 24 hours, changing the water every 3-4 times.
Then drain the liquid off the meat. Place in a large pot covered with cold water, a carrot, stick of celery, onion halved and some black peppercorns. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 4-5 hours. Once the meat is very tender, drain the liquid and allow to cool.
and the Recipe for Croquettes
Shred the meat or blitz in the food processor until you have about 4 cups of finely shredded meat. Prepare a batch of thick white sauce (about 1 cup) and mix the shredded meat into it. Leave in the fridge until set fairly firmly.
Prepare 3 shallow bowls in a row, 1 with plain flour, 1 with a beaten egg and 1 with bread crumbs. Then shape the mix into croquette shapes to a size that suits you, dipping each firstly into the flour, then the egg, then the crumbs. Lining up your ready to cook croquettes on a plate until you have finished the mixture.
Now either shallow or deep fry in corn or groundnut oil till golden.
Serve with a rocket, sorrel or dandelion salad and some homemade mayonnaise, with a touch of horseradish added if you like.