Spiced beef is more of a Christmas/New Years tradition in Ireland, but I thought it would be fun to include here. I mean, I don’t think there are any Spiced Beef Police who would take you into custody if they saw you serving it on St. Patrick’s Day. It is always served cold, cut in thin slices, and often accompanied by brown bread & mustard or chutney. Here I’m serving it as little two bite, quartered sandwiches on that Honey-Oat Pain de Mie I just told you about, slathered with spicy mustard.
So what, you may ask, is spiced beef? Spiced Beef, or Mairteoil Spíosraithe in Irish, is sort of the cousin of Corned Beef or Pastrami I suppose. Basically it is beef which has been marinated for a week, or perhaps longer, in spices such as juniper berry, allspice, brown sugar and pepper and cured with some kosher salt and Sel Rose or curing salt. Many older recipes call for salt petre to do the curing, but that may be difficult to obtain due to its use in explosives. The Sel Rose or Prague Powder as it is sometimes called is what gives the finished beef such a rosy pink color. This spice marinated beef is then cooked in Guinness or a similar stout. In Ireland, come the Holiday season, you will see Spiced Beef in many butcher shop windows. Now a days it is not often cured at home, but purchased ready to cook. Each butcher’s recipe for the spice mixture/curing time is slightly different, which results in a lively debate about exactly whose is the best.
There is also a bit of a debate about where this dish originated. The author of the cookbook I cite below claims it is a Dublin tradition, (I believe he is from Dublin) whereas I was always told it was a Cork tradition (I went to university in Cork), so I’m not sure. But Chef Armstrong does mention that he remembers eating these spiced beef sandwiches on white bread with spicy English mustard after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I had just baked a gorgeous loaf of Honey-Oat Pain de Mie, which I told you about a couple of days ago and it worked out perfectly.
I think these sandwiches would do nicely along with a pint or two…And just think, maybe next year we can actually go out for some St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities. You could whip these up ahead of time and have them waiting for when you stumble back home. Or perhaps you can serve them at Christmas. You’ll have plenty of time to gather your ingredients. Keep these tasty nibbles in mind for whichever Holiday strikes your fancy.
Spiced Beef Sandwiches
- 2 packed Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Dublin Spice (see below)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons pink curing salt, such as Sel Rose or Insta Cure #1
- 3 lb. eye of round roast
- 1 bottle Guinness
- Pain de Mie or Sandwich Bread of your choice
- English Mustard for serving
Season the beef:
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, spices, kosher salt and curing salt. With your hands, rub the spice mix all over the meat, creating a thick coating. Place the meat in a 2 gallon zip-top bag. Refrigerate for 1 week, rolling the meat around in the accumulated juices once per day.
Cook the beef:
Transfer the meat to a pot. Do not rinse the spices off. Pour the bottle of Guinness over it and add enough water that the meat is covered. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for 3 hours, or until fork tender, but not completely falling apart. Remove the beef fro the heat and let it cool completely in its cooking liquid. Drain the meat and place in a clean storage container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Tightly wrapped beef can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Serve the dish: Spread the bread slices with mustard and make sandwiches with the thinly sliced beef.
***Dublin Spice: In a spice grinder, grind 2 Tablespoons of juniper berries into a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with 3 Tablespoons ground black pepper, 2 Tablespoons ground allspice and 2 Tablespoons ground cloves. This will make about 1/2 cup – more than you need for this recipe. It can be stored in an airtight container for us to 3 months.
Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Spiced Beef Sandwiches: