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Salt Beef with Horseradish Mash

Appetising salt beef, served with peppery horseradish mash. The Rachel Khoo recipe takes the cheaper cut of beef brisket and turns it into something delicious.


Brisket is a fatty and great-value cut from the front underside of the cow. It is most commonly used to make pastrami and salt beef, which has seen quite a comeback in recent years. For many, however, it has always been on the map, particularly for fans like myself who make a regular pilgrimage to Beigel Bake on Brick Lane for their exemplary salt beef bagels with lashings of English mustard.

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1kg piece of beef brisket
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns
cornichons or sliced gherkins, to serve
For the brine:
100g light brown muscovado sugar
150g coarse sea salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 juniper berries, lightly bruised
2 star anise
4 cloves
3 bay leaves
1.5 l water
For the dill vinaigrette:
10g fresh dill
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1 large pinch of caster sugar
For the mash:
1 kg floury potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper or King Edward)
2 knobs of butter
100-200ml milk, warmed
1 tbsp horseradish cream
Sea salt

Essential kit

You will need a blender or food processor.


Place the ingredients for the brine in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Leave to cool completely.

Place your beef in a plastic lidded container and pour the brine over the top. Make sure it is fully submerged (you may have to weight it down with something) and place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 days and up to 10 days. Turn the meat daily.

When ready to cook, drain the beef, discarding the marinade, and rinse under cold running water. Place in a large saucepan and cover with 3 litres of cold water. Peel and halve the onion, carrot and celery and add to the pan, along with the bay leaf and peppercorns. Gently bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface. Poach really gently, uncovered, for 3-4 hours, topping it up with just-boiled water if necessary.

Make the dill vinaigrette by whizzing the dill (stalks included) in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Drain and put back into the pan over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until dry. Once the potatoes have stopped steaming, mash them (a potato ricer or Mouli gives the best results). Mix with the butter and add enough warm milk to make a smooth, creamy mash. Add the horseradish cream and a little salt.

When the salt beef is ready, remove it from the pan and place on a board, then slice it up thinly. Serve the salt beef, warm or hot, with the mash on the side and plenty of cornichons or sliced gherkins. Drizzle over the dill vinaigrette.

The beef freezes well once cooked. The vinaigrette can be made a day in advance.

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