The GP Sunday Special – Homemade Salt Beef

'Gypsy' Dave Cooper, Going Postal
NOT ‘Gypsy’ Dave Cooper’s Salt Beef

Many years ago when I dared to visit East London on business myself and the old man would always visit a Jewish bakery in Bethnal Green and feast ourselves on some amazing salt beef sandwiches. Ever since then I’ve tried all sorts of supermarket versions but they never came close, so I thought sod it, I’ll try and make my own. It’s dead simple and just requires a bit of patience for the beef brisket to cure but it is well worth the wait. Also be aware that the Yanks call salt beef ‘corned beef’ which can be confusing as corned beef in the UK is totally different to salt beef.

You will need:

1kg Beef Brisket, ask your butcher as he may have to order it in and also ask him to trim off any excess fat.

Salt beef cure, this needs to contain saltpetre as this keeps the meat pink in colour. You can make your own but I buy one online as it’s a hell of a lot easier.

  • Couple of bulbs of garlic, not peeled.
  • 250g Coarse sea salt
  • 250g Brown sugar
  • 6 Bay leaves
  • A slow cooker (not essential, a saucepan will do)

You will also need a large non-metallic container that will allow the whole joint of meat to be covered in the cure and it will need a lid.


Fill a large saucepan with 2 litres approx of water, add your cure, sugar and salt and bring to the boil whilst stirring to dissolve everything. Let it boil for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat and allow to cool completely.

Place your brisket in your tub, a bucket will do, just nothing metallic and make sure it’s sterilized. Add your cure mix and make sure that it’s completely covered, if it floats a tad just put something on it to keep it submerged.  Cover and place in a very cool place, fridges are useful, and leave for about 8 days.

After waiting patiently the end is now in sight.  Remove the brisket, discard the cure mix and rinse under a cold tap. Place the brisket in the slow cooker, add the garlic, bay leaves, a bit more salt and pepper and finally fill with enough cold water to cover the meat.  Set cooker on LOW and leave for about 6 hours or 2-2½ hours on the hob.

Remove from cooker/saucepan, pat dry and serve.

The meat should literally be tender enough to just pull off (fnarr fnarr) and serve with fresh crusty bread and a good English mustard, Taylors being my favourite.  The meat will keep for a good week or so if covered and kept in the fridge.

Very tasty, costs sod all and dead easy to make. Cheers.

‘Gypsy’ Dave Cooper

Ed. As I’m still receiving the odd recipe I thought I’d put them up Sunday mornings. This one may not be ready for lunch.