Sure, corned beef (named for the large corns of salt once used in curing) grabs all the headlines when the topic of Irish beef comes up, but at holiday times, spiced beef is far more likely to be on the menu than its corned cousin. Some traditional recipes for Irish spiced beef are more than 300 years old, and the tradition probably started because this spicing method was the best way to tenderize a brisket, one of the butcher's cheapest cuts of meat. Speaking of time, you will need to allow a full week for the painstaking spicing process to convert that tough brisket of beef into the tenderest meat imaginable - but any Irishman will tell you straight out that a fine spiced beef at Christmastime is well worth any extra effort required.
Irish Spiced Beef Ingredients
- 6 1/2 pounds of beef
- 3 bay leaves
- 10 cloves
- 5 blades mace
- 1 garlic clove (crushed)
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 pound of salt or about 2 cups
- 1 oz or 1 1/2 tbsp of saltpetre
- herbs (fresh bunch mixed)
- 4 sliced onions
- 4 sliced carrots
Preparing Your Irish Spiced Beef
Preparation time is about 20 minutes though you'll need to begin 7 days in advance of serving. Cooking time is 5 hours. Serves approximately 2-4.
Wipe meat over with a damp cloth. Mix seasoning ingredients together (excluding herbs, onions and carrots). Rub 1/7th of the seasoning well into meat. Place meat on a bed of seasoning in glass or plastic container, cover and leave in a cool place. Repeat each day for 7 days rubbing 1/7th of the seasoning onto the meat, turn over and cover again. At the end of seven days place the meat, herbs, onions and carrots into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and then simmer gently for approximately 5 hours, until the meat is tender (don't over cook!). Place the cooked meat on a flat dish and cover with a board and place a heavy weight on top of the board. Once the meat is cold, it can then be carved and served.