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Cook's notesCuring beef always involves adding salt. A final salt level of 2% is the minimum to aim for, 2.5% is OK - anything higher will either need soaking, poaching or to be used in cooking in the manner of bacon lardons. Over a period of time, through osmosis, the salt levels will equalise, so a practical approach is to start with a higher salt level of 5-8%. When the joint begins to feel noticeably firm, scrape off any excess salt, wrap in greaseproof paper and place in the fridge to allow the absorbed salt to equalise. Wine and/or vinegar is also a useful curing tool because, with a pH of less than 3.5 it will pickle the meat. Herbs and spices are not only good for flavour, but also work as anti-oxidants and often contain high levels of natural nitrite which help both preserve and fix an attractive red colour.
- 1 kg beef, trimmed of all fat and sinew
- 75g salt
- 1 bunch rosemary, chopped
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp crushed dried chillies
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 1 tbsp garlic, crushed (about 4 cloves)
- 12 bay leaves
- peel of ½ orange
- 150ml each red and white wine
Prep time: 20 min
Step 1Mix the dry ingredients - everything except the beef and wine - together and rub vigorously into the meat. Repeat an hour later with any leftovers.
Step 2Place the joint in a plastic zip-lock bag, add the wine, seal and place in a container in the fridge. Leave for a week, turning daily.
Step 3Remove from the bag, pat dry and hang in a cool dry place. If this is tricky, then just leave it exposed in the fridge.
Step 4After a week it should be dry and noticeably firm. Brush with olive oil, wrap in greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge for another week.
Step 5Eat thinly sliced like Parma ham. The downside of curing a small piece of meat is that you will get a higher percentage of dry bits around the outside, but you can treat these like bacon and use as a base for a soup or stew