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Stillroom spiced beef.

Grace Firth calls this cure by the workaday name “saltpeterless corned beef,” but the technique is similar to the method for making the classic British spiced beef. After brining and boiling the beef you may serve it hot but it is best eaten cold and sliced very thin. You could pickle pork the same way to good result.

beef-cut-ptg001.jpgFor the brine:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 12 oz pale ale
  • 1 cup pickling salt (or tables salt in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pickling spice


  • a 6 lb rump of beef


To simmer the beef:

  • 6 bacon slices (smoked or not)
  • 24 more oz pale ale
  • about 1 teaspoon dry mustard (like Colman’s)
  • about 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • water to cover


  1. Stir together the elements of the brine, pour it over the beef and “weight the meat with a plate and rock” or less rustic brick, cover the pot and leave it in the refrigerator for 4 or more days.
  2. Rinse the brine, including its detritus, from the beef, then soak it for 30 minutes in cold water, then rub the mustard and onion into the meat and let it stand at room temperature for an hour or two.
  3. Line the bottom of a pot just big enough to hold the rump with the bacon. Pour on the ale, set the beef in the pot and pour over enough water nearly to cover the meat.
  4. Bring the liquid to a boil and immediately reduce it to a simmer, covered, until a butcher’s fork pierces the meat like butter, usually in about 4 hours.



-Instead of boiling the beef you could bake it for the same amount of time at 250˚.

-Our recipe differs from Firth’s in several respects. She smears her beef with a mixture of garlic and chili powders after brining it, and omits the bacon and second tranche of beer.

-You could use the raw brined beef to make her boiled corned (or salt) beef with carrots and horseradish. Our version appears elsewhere in the practical.