Every Sunday I insist that we sit down to a roast dinner. I know this is a dying tradition but it is one I am keen to hold on to and I do particularly enjoy crispy roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, slices of roast meat and lashings of gravy. My personal favourite roast meat is lamb, my husband loves pork - particularly if the crackling has crackled properly, and my daughters love chicken.
On 18th September we went out for dinner to celebrate my parents' 45th wedding anniversary - no mean feat! They suggested the Harvester closest to their home and we went early enough to catch the last servings from the carvery. I was glad of this as Sunday without roast dinner just isn't right! Their meats of choice that night were turkey and beef. I wouldn't normally bother with turkey at home as both chicken and duck have more flavour in my opinion and we have a goose at Christmas (another tradition I'm keen to keep alive). I love the flavour of roast beef but when doing it at home it can be as tough as an old boot. Trying to cook a small bit of beef without making it tough is tricky and often results in disappointment. So on this occasion I enjoyed the novelty of turkey and beef and stacked my plate high with roast potatoes, vegetables and impressive Yorkshire puddings.
Last week whilst out shopping I found myself drawn to the beef roasting joints now that my appetite had been refreshed with the taste. I found a bit on offer but it was only about a kilogram - enough to feed the family but difficult to cook. So I asked my friend Turan from Coldsmoking Cookery School how he would cook it for best results. He suggested brining it first then slow cooking it covered for a few hours. This, he told me, would make it fall apart with the touch of a fork. This wasn't entirely what I was after as I was more looking for nice slices than "pulled brisket". So he amended his instructions to brining then cooking covered at 180°C for about an hour, then taking off the foil for the last bit and ramping the temperature up to brown.
Turan's instructions for brining couldn't have been simpler. I found a suitably small plastic container and put it on my scales and zeroed them. Then I added the meat and filled the container so that the meat was covered. Together the meat and water weighed 1500g, so I needed to add 15g of salt to create a 10% solution. I put the lid on the box and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. To cook, I placed it on a rack in a roasting tin and covered with foil then cooked at 180°C for 1 hour. Then I removed the foil and turned up the oven temperature to 200°C. I had been making some Garlic & Ale Mustard for my mate Mr Fitz earlier in the day and I had a little bit of that left over so I coated the meat with it and put it back in the oven for another twenty minutes before finally bringing it out to rest.
I'm pleased to say that the combination of brining and cooking left me with a piece of meat the sliced beautifully and was both tasty and tender to eat. I do believe that roast beef may be back on my Sunday menu from now on.