corned beef

Corned / Salt Beef

Corned beef gets its unique flavour and texture by first soaking in a salt bath and then being gently poached. It’s terribly old fashioned, but this is a very good version.

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus soaking time
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves 6

1.5–2 kg piece corned or salt beef (silverside)
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 carrots, cut into 5 cm pieces
2 bay leaves
1 stick celery
handful of parsley stalks
6–8 whole black peppercorns
1/2 star anise (optional, but good)

To serve
12 small carrots
12 small potatoes, scrubbed
1 small cabbage, halved, core removed and cut into 4 cm wedges
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
mustard-flavoured mayonnaise (see note below)

Soak the corned beef in a very large saucepan of cold water for 3–4 hours (or up to 12 hours). Drain, return the beef to the saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh cold water.

Add the onion, carrot, bay leaves, celery, parsley stalks, peppercorns and star anise, if using. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 2 1/2 hours. Check every now and then and skim the fat from the surface. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard. Leave the beef in the poaching liquid and chill until needed.

3 To serve, strain  the poaching liquid into a large saucepan or deep saute pan and bring to the boil. Add the carrots, potatoes and cabbage and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. Slice the beef into 1 cm thick pieces and add to the liquid. Simmer until heated through.

4 Transfer the beef to large pasta bowls and surround with the vegetables. Ladle on a little hot poaching liquid and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with a dollop of mustard-flavoured mayonnaise.

Really useful …
To make mustard mayonnaise, stir 1–2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 250 ml homemade or good-quality bought mayonnaise. Taste and add extra mustard to suit your taste.

Corned beef is easily reheated. Save some poaching liquid and simmer the beef in the liquid until warmed through. Cook any fresh vegetables in a separate pan of boiling salted water.

photo by Nato Welton

Steak with herb butter

150g unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 small French shallot (eschallot), finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 steaks

Make the flavoured butter by placing the butter, shallot, parsley, chives, capers, mustard, lemon rind, Worcestershire sauce, salt and a good grinding of freshly ground black pepper into a small bowl. Using a fork or wooden spoon, beat the mixture until the ingredients are combined. Slowly add the lemon juice, beating as you go, until combined.

Place on a sheet of non-stick baking paper and then roll and shape the butter into a log about 4cm in diameter, twisting the ends like a cracker. Chill for about 1 hour; store any unused butter in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Place a grill pan or heavy frying pan over a high heat. Cook the steaks in the hot pan until to your liking. Place two 1cm slices of the chilled butter on each steak and pop under a hot grill until starting to melt. Serve immediately. Serves 2

" To cook the perfect steak I like to use a heavy, ribbed, grill pan, heavy frying pan or barbecue. The pan needs to be placed over a high heat and be almost smoking before the steak is added. Brushing the steak with a little olive oil (rather than brushing the pan) helps prevent smoking. Once the steak has cooked for a minute or two and nicely coloured, reduce the temperature of the pan to finish the cooking. For an average steak of about 2cm thick, for rare cook 2 minutes each side, for medium cook 3 minutes each side and for well done cook for 5-6 minutes each side. It is important to rest the meat before serving. Don’t be afraid of meat that is flecked or marbled with fat; remember fat equals flavour! "

Spice-rub steak

Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp each black peppercorns, fennel seeds, dried oregano and cayenne pepper
2 sirloin steaks
Ripe tomatoes, to serve

Using a pestle and mortar, grind the lemon rind with the garlic, peppercorns and fennel seeds until well blended. Add the oregano and cayenne and a good pinch of salt and grind together.

Lightly brush the steak with oil and rub the spice mixture on both sides. Set aside to marinate if desired. Cook in a hot pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until browned with a slight crusty coating. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for a few minutes. Serve with a tomato salad.


Tagliata with rocket and parmesan

For an average steak of about 2cm thick, for rare cook 2 minutes each side, for medium cook 3 minutes each side and for well done cook for 5-6 minutes each side. It is important to rest the meat before serving. Don’t be afraid of meat that is flecked or marbled with fat; remember fat equals flavour!

Tagliata with rocket and parmesan

2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large T bone steak or 2 rib eye or sirloin steaks
2 handfuls rocket
Shaved parmesan, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

Pound the garlic, oil and black pepper in a pestle and mortar (or mash in a bowl with back of fork) to form paste. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Rub garlic paste over both sides of steak. Cover and set aside in a cool place for 30 minutes. Wipe off the garlic paste and brush with a little extra oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook steak on a barbecue or in a ribbed frying pan over a high heat for about 3 minutes per side (depending on how you like them cooked). Transfer the steak to a plate to rest for 5 minutes.

To serve cut steak on slight angle into 1.5 cm thick slices. Arrange the rocket on a platter, then top with the slices of meat and pour over any juice from the plate.

Serve with shaved parmesan and lemon wedges. Serves 2

beef goulash paprika

Beef Goulash

It is the special flavour of paprika that sets aside a proper goulash. Paprika is made by drying and grinding the sweet and hot peppers grown around Hungary. It’s much milder than cayenne pepper and has a characteristic sweetness. Its flavour varies from mild to pretty robust; its main purpose is to add flavour and colour, more than heat. Look for paprika that is labelled ‘noble sweet’.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 11/4 hours
Serves 4

3 tablespoons plain flour
1 kg rump or chuck steak or lean beef, cut into 2 cm cubes
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries, crushed
500 ml beef or chicken stock (or 500 ml water and 1 stock cube)
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Tabasco sauce
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
sour cream, to serve

Place the flour in a clean plastic bag. Shake a few pieces of meat in the bag until lightly dusted. Repeat until all the pieces of meat are coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned, adding a little extra oil if needed. Be careful not to overcrowd the frying pan, as the meat will then steam rather than sear. Transfer to a large casserole dish or lidded saucepan.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary and cook the onion over low heat until tender. Add the onion, paprika, bay leaf and allspice to the casserole and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.

Mix the cornflour with 50 ml cold water and add to the casserole with the tomato paste and a dash or two of Tabasco sauce. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until it thickened slightly. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with sour cream.


Boiled egg noodles dressed with a little butter, chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper make a tasty accompaniment to goulash.