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Salt Beef for Beginners

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Chefs have many different ways of cooking salt beef, but the simplest way of all is one of the best, and you don’t need to be an experienced cook to get a perfect result first time. Follow these instructions carefully and you will be serving up delicious, moist slices of salt beef and your guests will be amazed at your new-found cooking skills!

Hensons salt beef has already been slow-cured. Supplied in its brine and carefully trimmed, it is completely ready to cook.

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Place the beef in the biggest pan you have and fill with water.

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Add three bay leaves, a couple of onions, a few sprigs of thyme and a small handful of peppercorns.

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Bring the water to the boil, and then reduce to a very gentle simmer. After a few minutes skim any froth from the surface of the water.

Leave the beef to cook very slowly for 3 to 3 ½ hours. Resist the temptation to turn up the heat, as this will destroy the unique texture of perfectly cooked salt beef.

After 3 hours test the beef by carefully sliding a knife into the joint. If it goes in with no resistance the beef is cooked. Otherwise, leave it for a few minutes and try again.

Once it is ready, turn the heat off. The beef can then be sliced and eaten straight away, or left in its juices until you are ready to serve.

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If you want to prepare it well in advance, simply reserve some of the cooking liquor, and keep it and the beef in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. You can save it for two or three days. Then just reheat gently (making sure it is cooked throughout, of course) and it will be just as delicious as when you first cooked it.

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Our favourite way to serve salt beef is to pile generous slices of beef into a sandwich (use a strong bread such as rye or crusty) or in bagels. You don’t need either butter or margarine – the salt beef will be moist enough on its own.

Hot salt beef is delicious both hot and cold. It goes very well in a salad, or as a platter on its own or with other deli meats.

For more recipes and information on where to eat salt beef around the country as well as stockists, visit

For orders of four joints or more (approx. 10kg) call us directly on 020 7609 2299 (9-5, Monday to Friday) and we will despatch a refrigerated box direct to your home or work place. For smaller orders delivered direct to your home, visit our partners Keevil and Keevil – traditional Smithfield Butchers.

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