Spiced Beef Sandwiches

March 12, 2021

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

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy - but remember to allow yourself enough time for the beef to marinate
  • Print

recipe from: My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland & Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn


  • 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:

Pure Prague Powder #1

Coleman’s Original English Mustard

Cuisinart Spice & Nut Grinder

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve

Cheese & Onion Pie

March 4, 2011

Yay, its March! That has to mean that spring temperatures can’t be too far away and St. Patrick’s Day will be happening soon. St. Patrick’s Day has always been a fun time for me because we get to celebrate all things Irish…well…I guess we get to wear green from head to toe, drink green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage-all things that my friends in Ireland do not actually do on the day. But hey, who am I to argue with the American adaptation. It’s all fun! And I usually get to eat plenty of fantastic Irish food that I love for the month. I’m sure there are a few raised eyebrows when I mention ‘fantastic” and “Irish food” so close together. Irish food has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the past for being somewhat boiled and tasteless. However, that is simply not the case. I’m really not so much of a fan of the ole corned beef and cabbage, but love the really thick french fries, or chips, soda bread, brown bread, Shepherd’s Pie, Beef and Guinness pie, I could go on and on. So, for the month of March I plan to blog about the great food I enjoyed when I was living in Cork. Perhaps I can give you some menu ideas for a fabulous St. Patrick’s Day dinner party. Check back often this month.

I will be starting it all off with the Cheese & Onion Pie. I LOVE Cheese & Onion pies. I hadn’t had one in I can’t tell you how long. I have never found any establishment here in the US serving these scrumptious items. I didn’t really find them offered in many places in Ireland either I must say. However, there is an awesome chipper in Cork that is still serving these to this day-Lennox’s-located on the Bandon Road, very close to University College Cork. Back in the day, my friends and I would often stop by there on the way home from the pub for a late night snack. I would always get the Cheese & Onion pie which they served up with plenty of chips and healthy lashings of salt and malt vinegar. YUM! This pie was not like a traditional meat pie in that it was not in a pie crust. Rather  Lennox’s offering was more like a deep-fried ball of cheese and onion mashed potatoes, crunchy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.  And all of that for a measly 60 pence (which was about $1.10 at the time). What an incredible bargain! There couldn’t have been anything more perfect at the time. Cheap, which was great since I was a starving student, as well as hot, salty, crunchy, carby and available at oh…say 11:30 pm when I was full of pints and headed home from the pub.What a Godsend. I looked around online for the recipe, but sadly could not find anything similar to Lennox’s version. I did find lots of recipe requests from other American’s who had gone to college in Cork and were jonesing for  Cheese & Onion pies. Unfortunately these requests were often answered with recipes for cheese & onion baked within a pie crust. Not the same! So I set out to recreate the Lennox’s version. I broke out my deep fryer. Took some leftover mashed potatoes, mixed in some flour to give it some body, some wonderful Irish cheddar cheese and fried onions and garlic.

Cheese & Onion Pie Dough

I rolled this mixture into balls which were about 2 inches in diameter. This was about the size of Lennox’s pies. My husband said he thought they would be better smaller, perhaps the size of golf balls, so I did a few that size as well.

Full sized pie & mini pie

I was not sure what the pre-frying step should be. I didn’t think that Lennox’s coated theirs in any type of batter before it hit the deep-fryer, but I wasn’t quite sure. So I made some without any batter, and some coated in a deep-frying batter. I was curious whether a Panko coating might also be tasty. It was certainly not what I found at Lennox’s, but I thought I might be able to make some small improvements to the dish.

Naked Pie

Battered Pie

Panko Pies

I fried all three versions up and then the fun “tasting” part of this experiment began!

Naked Cheese & Onion Pie

Panko Cheese & Onion Pie

Battered Cheese & Onion Pie

The results? The “naked” version was what I remember as being closer to the Lennox’s experience, you got a definite crunch when you bit down, with warm gooey, cheesy goodness inside.


The Panko version was very good as well, somewhat lighter and still quite crispy. The battered version was still tasty, super crunchy on the outside, though the batter made it a bit heavy and I don’t think worth the extra trouble.  They were all good. I believe my husband is on to something concerning the size as well. The mini pies, though not true to the Lennox’s experience were better! I don’t believe Lennox’s has anything to worry about though, they still reign supreme. However, if you find that you are not in Cork and are really dying for a Cheese & Onion pie, try this recipe.

Cheese & Onion Pie

For the pies:

1  Cup left over mashed potatoes

1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 Cup onions-diced

1-2 cloves garlic-diced fine

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbs. butter

For Panko Breading (should you wish to try this version)

1/2 Cup flour

2 eggs-lightly whisked

1/2 Cup Panko flakes

Deep-fry Batter-(in case you want to try this one!)

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


Saute the onions and garlic in butter until softened. Let cool.

Mix the mashed potatoes, flour, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper  and onion garlic mixture together until a dough forms.

Shape dough into pies of your desired size. This recipe makes 4 Cheese & Onion Pies of 2 ” diameter.

If you are not going to try the Panko version, you are now ready to deep-fry. If you wish to try the Panko version, gently roll the pies in flour until coated. Then dip in egg wash and roll in Panko until thoroughly coated. If you are trying the battered version, try to make sure the pie is completely coated and gently lower it directly into the oil. If you place it in the deep-fryer basket, it will stick to it!

Deep fry at 375° F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. If you are making mini pies it will only take 5-6 minutes.

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