Corned Beef – home cured

Corned beef.

Corned beef is a salt-cured product.  It was a staple in my home when I was growing up, but I’m sure Pegs, my Mom, never cured it herself, as she was definitely not that adept in the kitchen.  I am sure however, that my Granny would have cured her own, but I can’t remember.

Anyway, I loved corned beef then and I love it now.  Slow cooked and served with onions, carrots and potatoes, served hot with maybe a mustard sauce, sliced corned beef on sandwiches for school the next day or cold corned beef and salad for lunch. My absolute favourite was corned beef hash which we only ever had while on holiday in the caravan.  Yummy.  My mouth waters just reminiscing about it.

That was last century …

This century, I still love corned beef, hot or cold, and it’s freely available in supermarkets and butchers.  I do however, choose to corn my own as it is far healthier, with no nasties added and believe me, the home corned beef tastes like the one I remember from last century.  Yes, it takes about 10 days to corn, but once you’ve tasted your own, you will never buy a commercially prepared corned beef again.

The image below, from a commercially prepared corned silverside available in our local supermarket, lists a few ingredients other than the beef and water.  Salt, Mineral Salt (451,450,452), Sugar, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Canola Oil.   One bug bear for me is the Sodium Nitrite and I would suggest you read up on this chemical here .  This is a product I would choose not to eat, not only flavour-wise, but food additive wise.  I just don’t see the point in consuming chemicals in food when they can be avoided.  This is my own personal opinion.  I’m sure there are many who would not agree with me, but we are all open to our own opinions.

So, if you would like to know how I make my own Corned Silverside, my recipe is below.

My home-cured Corned Beef Silverside Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2kg Silverside (I chose free range and organic)
  • 2 litres filtered water
  • 1 cup Himalayan Rock Salt
  • ½ cup Rapadura sugar (you could use brown sugar or coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon Ceylon Cinnamon
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 springs of rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

Directions

  1. Add the water and all dry ingredients to a large stainless still stock pot, bring to boil.
  2. Reduce to simmer once boiled and continue cooking until the salt and sugar have dissolved – takes about 20 – 30 minutes.  Stir regularly.
  3. Your kitchen will start to smell divine, just like Christmas!
  4. Take stockpot off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This takes a few hours.
  5. Pour the cooled brine mixture into a large glass container, preferably with a lid – funnily enough I use a Corningware dish!
  6. Place the silverside into the brine in the dish, making sure that the brine covers the beef completely.
  7. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 10 days.
  8. Check daily to ensure the beef stays submerged and turn the beef over, in the brine regularly.  The beef will start to change colour after a few days.

Once the beef is corned, you can either freeze the beef in the brine, or you can slow cook it.  If you choose to cook it straight away, the beef must be rinsed well before cooking.  I’ll cover the cooking of the beef in my next blog.

ENJOY!

 

 

Healthy Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake can be healthy.

Today I made my Christmas Cakes.  This recipe works for a larger cake, individual little cakes or medium size ones that make perfect gifts for those friends who don’t want to make their own!  They are quick to mix, take a little longer to bake but can be enjoyed without feeling guilty, as they are healthier than store-bought ones.  They are gluten and dairy free, NOT nut free, but…  they are delicious!  I choose to use all organic ingredients.

Ingredients

(makes 2 x 20cm cakes or 1 x 20cm + 2 x 10cm or quite a few individuals!)

  •  1.2kg mix of whatever dried fruit you have or want (I added raisins, figs, sultanas, dates and cranberries – chop the dates and figs)
  • 100g coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups ground almonds or almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons Ceylon  Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract or paste
  • zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 5 tablespoons macadamia nut oil or Inca Inchi oil (a mild olive oil should be okay)
  • 6 eggs at room temperature

Directions

  1. Mix first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add the beaten eggs and stir well.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared springform, parchment lined pans.
  4. Bake in fan force oven @ 150°C for 90 – 120 minutes.  Check after 90 minutes with a skewer and if it comes out clean, they are done.  Otherwise put back for a further 30 minutes.  Generally my oven does 2 x 20cm cakes in 120 minutes.
  5. Cool on a cake rack and remove from the tins when cold.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 30 days or wrap in parchment and then cling wrap and freeze – they last in the freezer for months and months, as long as the husband doesn’t find them!
  7. If you would like to use as a Christmas pudding, you can drizzle the hot cakes with some brandy, sherry or orange liqueur as soon as they come out of the oven.
  8. ENJOY WITHOUT THE GUILT!

Beautiful Beef Stock

Nothing beats homemade stock for using in broth, soups, casseroles, curries, gravies, etc.  Your gut, and your whole body will love you for making your own stock to use in your home cooked nourishing meals.  Ditch the bought stock cubes and cartons of ready-made stock…

 

 IMG_3609

1.  Start with about 2kg of grass fed, organic marrow bones…ask your butcher to saw them in half if they are large.

IMG_3613

2.  Use a large stock pot – add enough filtered water to cover your bones, and add chopped onion, diced celery (including the leaves), diced carrots and garlic.  I also add a decent amount of ground black pepper and Himalayan salt as well as a “dollop” of vinegar (to help remove all the goodness from the bones).

IMG_3614

3.  And LOTS of different herbs!

IMG_3616

4.  Bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that forms on the top to keep the stock nice and clear.

IMG_3624

5. Let the stock simmer away for as many hours as you can.  I simmer mine for up to 48 hours allowing the flavours to develop and the stock to become concentrated.

IMG_3623

6.  Once I am happy with the reduction, I take it off the heat and let it cool.  As it cools, I remove any fat that solidifies on the top of the stock.  Below this layer of fat is healthy, oh so good for you stock.

IMG_3625

7.  To finish off the stock, I heat it up slowly, just until it is warm, and then remove all the “bits”, i.e. dem bones, herbs, onion, celery and carrot bits, etc, by pouring through a colander. You will notice that the volume is almost half of what I started with.

IMG_3630

8.  I strain the stock using muslin or cheese cloth, until it is nice and clear – usually about 3 or 4 times.

IMG_3628

9.  This is what it looks like one it has been strained.

IMG_3321

10.  I then portion it in 250ml and 500ml food safe containers, label, with the date and freeze it for using as I need it.  It is concentrated, so when using, you still add some water, but freezing the concentrate saves on freezer space.

To add to soups, curries, casseroles, etc, it does not even need to be thawed – just add to the meal and let is slowly melt into whatever you are cooking.  Enjoy!