I’ve been enjoying Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food, a series where the affable chef cooks some of his favourite dishes. It’s got some great ideas and tips, and a decent range. I don’t think anything’s going to top the brisket from the first episode, a sandwich piled high with pickles and other goodies. “You can buy salt beef, but I’ve made my own” got my attention. The Tom Kerridge salt beef was thick and flaky so I grabbed my pen, ready to receive the recipe. Unfortunately it moved on to a method for pickled veg. Now the veg is awesome I’m certain, but not the star attraction as far as I’m concerned.
I really like the recipes on the program but it does suffer from being BBC cooking-show-formatted to death. Opening scene in his restaurant? Check. Fluffy indie tune interstitials? Check. Irrelevant mixing with the riff-raff? Check. It looks like it has slipped from a late Spring TV slot too, featuring asparagus and barbecue recipes. They lose their lustre on a rainy October evening. I could stand to hear the phrases “ultimate”, “cheeky” and “amazing” a few less times too. Tom’s a big enough character to overcome this however, with great cooking tips and must-make food so I hope it gets another series.
For another view, here’s Danny from Food Urchin’s thoughts about the show.
Lacking a Tom Kerridge recipe for salt beef, I set about making my own. I’ve been a fan of brisket for years, but somehow making salt beef had never occurred to me, so I hit the books. First up a five day brining, something salty and sweet to kick it along. Then a gentle poaching to cook it through, then a final heat through to serve. It sounds like a lot of stages, but none of them are difficult and mostly leaving it to do it’s thing.
And every bit of it is worth it. I’m sorry if you came here for a recipe for Tom Kerridge salt beef, but I reckon he’d be pleased with this. Toast up some bagels, pile the condiments high and let people make their own. Everyone will love it.
Tom Kerridge’s book, Proper Pub Food, is available from Amazon.
- 1.5kg beef brisket, rolled and tied
- For the brine:
- 300g salt
- 250g brown sugar
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- For the poaching:
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, bashed
- For finishing:
- 100ml beef stock
- Knob of butter
- Combine the brine ingredients in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover the beef. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Allow to cool completely and transfer to a clean bowl with the beef. Ensure the beef is completely submerged (I weighed mine down with a Kilner jar filled with rice). Place this in the fridge for five days.
- When the time's up rinse the beef and place in a saucepan with the chopped veg. Cover with water, bring to the boil then gently simmer for 3 - 4 hours until you can poke a knife into the meat with no resistance.
- You can serve the beef straight from the broth, else allow to cool. Carve thickly and reheat in a shallow frying pan with the butter and stock for a couple of minutes. Serve with a toasted bagel and your choice of mustards, sauerkraut, gherkin, mayo, cream cheese or whatever condiments do it for you.
I was coming home on the train and decided it would be pie or nothing for dinner. Luckily all the ingredients were on hand. Patchwork for two reasons: I had some squares of puff pastry to use because I’d absent-mindedly cut loads more than I need when making sausage rolls; and ended up using a hodge-podge of all odds and ends things I like.
Patchwork pie (serves 4 – 5):
500g beef mince
100g mushrooms, sliced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked
1 clove garlic, minced
50ml red wine
1 pack of ready-cooked chestnuts
300ml beef stock
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into squares
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon English mustard
- Get your oven on to 180°C, and two frying pans over high heat with a dash of olive oil in each.
- In one of the pans get the mince in and stir often until browned and starting to crisp up. In the other pan fry the mushrooms and rosemary together. After 5 mins add the garlic.
- When the mince has browned add the red wine to deglaze the pan a bit, then add the stock, chestnuts and the contents of the mushroom pan. Mix the cornflour with a splash of water to make a paste, then stir this in thoroughly.
- Bubble away for a couple more minutes until thickened, then pour into a baking dish. Layer the squares as neatly as you like over the filling. Mix the mustard into the egg and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and bake for 30 minutes until golden and puffy (well, it is puff pastry after all). Serve with carrots braised in butter and dusted with nutmeg.
Student food can mean an endless diet of jacket potatoes. If this is the case you can ring the changes with my puffed-up potatoes and incorporate whatever you have in the fridge to round out your dinner. The whisked egg whites lift the stodge of dense potato and gives a soufflé-like finish. It takes a little longer to make than a regular “jack pot” but I think the finish is worth it.
(In the pictures they’re accompanied by sweet and sour peppers but this is optional – there’s plenty of sustenance in the potato!).
Approximate cost for main ingredients, excludes storecupboard ingredients (prices from Tesco.com 7th Oct 2012): 62p
Soufflé potatoes (serves 1):
1 baking potato
1 slice of smoked ham, sliced
Big handful of grated cheddar cheese
1 spring onion, sliced
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon mustard
- Bake the potatoes as you would for jackets, smothering with a little oil, salt and pepper and baking in a 180°C oven for about an hour.
- Just before you take the potatoes out of the oven, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Mix the mustard into the yolks.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven and leave to cool for a moment (this helps loosen the flesh from the skin and makes them easier to handle).
- Using a teatowel to hold the spuds, cut the potatoes in half lengthways and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Put the hollowed-out skins back on the tray.
- Mash the flesh with the cheese, mustard, ham, spring onion egg yolk and mustard.
- Fold in the egg whites and scoop into the empty skins. Put back in the oven and turn up to 220°C.
- Take out of the oven in about 15 minutes, or when the tops have started to brown.
Practically every element of this could be substituted: the definition of a store-cupboard clearout dinner! Change the chorizo for another cooked meat, throw in another cheese and it’s off in another direction altogether. A blue cheese and salami version could be pretty good too…
Chorizo and red onion penne bake (serves 2):
250g chorizo, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
200ml creme fraiche
150g Port Salut, diced
3 roasted red onions*
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Boil the pasta until al dente.
- Mix the creme fraiche, mustard, onion and cheese together and add the penne. Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to make a nice slippery sauce. Pour into a baking dish and put in the oven for 20 mins or until starting to colour. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes out of the oven before serving.
*If you don’t have any roasted onions (I had some left over from this recipe) either chuck some in a hot oven for 30 mins or fry them for a few minutes before adding to the pasta.
I took a rare trip to Waitrose armed with gift vouchers, which meant I could spoil myself a bit buying things I wouldn’t usually reach for. I picked up some of this which at £2.29 for a little sachet of sauce is bit pricey. I picked up some sirloin steak too and thought it would be a good match. So I pan-fried the steak and while it rested warmed the sauce through in the same pan, and served it with some potato wedges.
Stone me it was good. Lick-the-plate good. A smooth mustardy flavour but packing seven shades of umami moreishness with each mouthful. According to the man himself it’s a version of sauce Robert bolstered by one of Heston’s favourite ingredients, konbu. I’d love to try making this at home sometime, but if I couldn’t be bothered I’ve been convinced this is worth the money for a special dinner.