What is Christmas in Cork without Spiced Beef?
Just not Christmas in my opinion! It is a terrific ‘old reliable’ at this time of year – not only is it packed with flavour, it will last in your fridge (properly covered) for nearly two weeks. So handy to have in for any unexpected guests.
Cork spiced beef reflects traditional preserving techniques from as far back as the 18th century, with exotic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and peppercorns, ginger, all spice and juniper berries giving it its distinctive and particularly ‘Christmassy’ flavour. These spices, or combinations of such, are often a long-held secret by families and butchers alike! It is seasoned with a dry rub of brown sugar and spices, applied every day over a period of several days. It can tend to be quite expensive as its a result of a labour intensive process. Historically it was the dish served on St. Stephens Day
The smell when you are cooking it is just divine. It permeates the whole house and as I am looking out on a snow scene at this very minute, it’s making me feel extremely Christmassy.
Ok on to the nuts and bolts of how to cook it to get the best out of it.
You can get a large or small piece so this is based per kilo of Spiced Beef. Cook for 2 hours per kilo in boiling water – a little bit higher than a simmer. Make sure to regularly top up the water in case it boils dry. My mothers advice is to boil it for as long as possible – taking it out and slicing – if its not tender , return it to the pot for more cooking.
When its cooked to the desired tenderness you then need to leave it in its cooking liquor until cool for all the juices to permeate the meat even more. I have to warn the novice to cooking Spiced Beef that at this point it may tend to look like the waste product of a large donkey but i promise you – begin to slice and reveal the beautiful crimson slices of heaven.
Wow!! Just so delicious. It can be eaten hot or cold but beware it will disappear fast!!