Pepper encrusted cured beef
Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Is this a yummy little morsel, or what? And oh so simple to make.
This is a recipe from Hawksmoor, my favourite steakhouse in London. It's a light, earthy, aromatic cure that extracts the moisture from a fillet of beef over 2 days. This is long enough to intensify the flavours without drying out the delicate meat.
I tried the celeriac salt with boiled eggs and it's lovely. For a light lunch, serve the beef with a seasonal salad—in spring, maybe fresh watercress and shallot rings dressed with lemon juice and olive oil; try tomatoes in summer, beetroots in autumn or a mustardy celeriac remoulade in winter.
500g centre cut beef fillet
20g cracked black pepper
300g celeriac, grated
300g Maldon sea salt
300g light muscovado sugar
20 sprigs of rosemary
Zest of one orange
1. Make the celeriac salt by combining the grated celeriac and salt in a plastic or ceramic container that's large enough to take the beef. Don't use a metal container because it will taint the meat.
2. Make the cure. Just add the sugar, orange zest and rosemary sprigs and fold gently until mixed.
3. Create a bed of cure in the container and lay the beef on top for a cosy little snooze.
4. Add the rest of the cure on top then spread so that the beef is well covered on all sides. The salt goes to work straight away so expect some liquid to be drawn out of the celeriac and the meat as you handle the cure.
5. Put the lid on or cover your container and leave in the fridge for 2 days. The beef will shrink a little and get darker in colour. Remember! Don't leave the beef in the cure for longer than 2 days because it will dry out.
6. Take the beef out of the fridge and remove it from the damp salt and sugar. Rinse under cold running water then pat dry with a clean cloth.
7. Spread the pepper over a clean surface making a rectangle as wide as the beef is long. Place the beef at the edge of the pepper closest to you, press and roll. This will distribute the pepper evenly over the surface of the beef. Don't forget to pepper the ends for the pepper lovers.
8. Wrap the beef in clingfilm—as tight as you can manage. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week until you're ready to serve.
9. Chow time. Slice thinly and enjoy any way you want.