Expert curer shares recipe on how to make the ultimate salt beef
Jessica Ward | 24th September 2020
Baker & Brisket is a business born as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Proving that good things can come out of the most troubling times, the company has been going from strength to strength over the past few months. Whilst making waves among the local food scene, they are already famed for their fall-apart, tender and succulent Salt Beef and Pastrami.
We catch up with the expert curer, briner and creator of Lina Baker.
For many generations, Lina’s family has been pickling, fermenting and curing any and all fresh produce to last them through the winter months.
“With my family coming from Siberia (Russia) and myself raised in Lithuania where the winters were very harsh and temperatures would normally drop way below -20C (sometimes to -40C) it was very important to preserve all foods to see you through to warmer months of the spring,” Lina explains.
“My first ever solid food I was weaned on as a baby was canned meat and potato mash. Coming from a background where all young women were traditionally taught to cook by their mothers and grandmothers, I’ve always cooked for my family and friends and held many a dinner party entertaining large crowds which comes very naturally to me even though my professional career is in technology and sales.”
We also asked Lina if she wouldn’t mind sharing her recipe with us, and to our surprise she said YES!
“Brining and curing is a very old traditional way of preserving meat or making it last longer but these days it’s just a trendy, artisanal product that is simply too complicated to make at home, but for those who have much patience, they will reap the benefits – as it really is a beautifully buttery and succulent end product.”
First, Lina explains: “I’d start with getting some good quality, ethically sourced brisket from a real butcher. Best get flat brisket, around 2kg. If it’s rolled, it’s also ok but will take a few extra days to brine. Also, when it’s rolled, it’s usually because it’s uneven in cutting so best leave it rolled.”
2kg brisket (most of fat trimmed, but not all of it)
For the brine:
3 liters water
270g of sea salt or kosher salt
200g brown sugar
30g Prague Powder #1 (optional)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel
4 bay leaves
And really the world is your oyster here with aromatics, add any other pickling spices if you wish, a couple of cloves, allspice, ginger, chilli flakes, etc
I would only say, take caution using Prague Powder #1 and always measure with digital scales. Prague Powder contains sodium nitrite which gives salt beef its distinctive pink colour but mustn’t be used in greater volume than the recipe.
For Salt Beef once brined:
1 large onion, quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 bulb of garlic, halved
To make the brine, put all ingredients into 3 liters of cold water, slowly bring to a simmer stirring regularly to ensure all salt has dissolved. Boil for a couple of minutes. Cool down the brine completely; preferably overnight and keep it chilled in the fridge.
Place the brisket into a large, food safe container and pour the brine over it ensuring it's completely submerged. You might need to weigh the brisket down as it will most likely rise to the top to float. Cover container with a lid, place in the fridge for 7 to 10 days (the thicker the brisket or if it's rolled, the longer it will brine).
After 7-10 days, remove the brisket from the brine, rinse off any excess salt and place in a large pot along with other ingredients. Cover with cold water and slowly bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 hours checking occasionally to make sure the water hasn't evapourated (top up with boiling water if needed).
My personal favourite serving suggestion is spread some mustard on rye bread, add a handful of sauerkraut, pile on salt beef, place a couple of slices of Swiss cheese (emmental or gruyere), stick it under preheated grill to melt the cheese and sandwich it with another piece of rye. A pickled gherkin on the side is a must too.
Lina began Baker & Brisket as a temporary project to keep herself busy having lost her job as a result of the many redundancies recently. Within a few weeks of existence, Lina had received multiple enquiries on where to buy her produce, along with a barrage of commercial enquiries too.
From here, she set up shop in the Artisan markets around Cheshire and Manchester which proved a great opportunity to showcase their hot salt beef and pastrami which they are now famed for.
The company continues to grow they have set their sites on a new website for purchasing their produce online, which is coming very soon, so be sure to watch this space!
To keep up with the latest news, and to find out where their next market will be, you can follow them on Instagram here.