Tom Durcan is one of Cork’s most famous craft butchers. And his stall in the City’s renowned English Market is a place of pilgrimage for carnivores, especially for devotees of the great Cork delicacy, Spiced Beef.
For those who haven’t experienced this slice of heaven, spiced beef is a prime cut, marinated in a spice cure for anything up to two months. Recipes for the cure vary and are often handed down through families and kept as closely guarded secrets.
When it’s time to eat, the beef is then slowly boiled and allowed to cool before being thinly sliced as a cold cut (it can also be eaten warm, often with red cabbage and mashed potatoes).
Tom has gotten together with his friend Denis Cronin, chef at the Michelin award winning Mad Fish restaurant at Cronin’s Pub in the fishing village of Crosshaven, to come up with a simple yet stylish recipe for spiced beef. It’s a Cork twist on an Italian Classic, Spiced Beef Carpaccio.
All you need is the spiced beef (and if you are not in Cork, Tom Durcan’s Butchers can despatch a joint to anywhere in Ireland or the UK). Once you have that, the rest is easy.
Firstly, note the weight of the meat. The weight will determine how long you need to cook it. If you prefer your spiced beef cold, then 40 minutes per kilo is sufficient. To serve warm, it’s 50 minutes a kilo. When it’s finished cooking, leave the meat cool in the cooking liquid as this is how it retains a lot of its moistness.
Once you have worked out the optimum time by weight, remove all packaging and place in a pot of cold water.
Bring to the boil and simmer slowly.
Don’t forget to leave it cool in the pot!
Spiced Beef needs to be sliced really thin to make carpaccio. And this can be a difficult task for the amateur butcher. If you don’t have access to a pro-grade meat slicer (you could ask your friendly local butcher to help) or a really sharp chef’s knife (and a steady hand) Durcan’s do sell their beef sliced to order.
A pro tip – freeze your spiced beef first – this makes it far easier to slice wafer thin with a meat slicer.
Slice the beef as wafer fine as you can. Ideally, the meat pieces should be almost see-through.
Arrange the slices on a large cold plate, using roughly twelve slices, covering the whole plate. Place a bunch of leaves in the centre and drizzle with olive oil. Finally garnish with shavings of cheese, a small wedge of lemon and serve with a side dish of fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
If first frozen, the beef will come to room temperate after approximately three or four minutes after slicing and is ready to be served.
It’s perfect as a light bite on a warm summer’s day or as a spicy, different starter.