St Patrick's Day: Corned beef (salt beef) with green bean salad

 

Beans are the true taste of summer, so while it may be a little premature to suggest that those heady days are already here, it certainly won’t do any harm to start thinking about putting the roasting dish away and getting the salad bowl out.

Apart from their natural ability to accompany both fish and meat, they are perfect in wonderful summery salads. And what better accompaniment on St Patrick's Day than salt beef - it has layers of fat running through it, which makes the meat melt in the mouth. This is a dish you can prepare ahead when you've got people for lunch and dinner - you'll need to start at least the day before anyway, soaking the beef overnight.

Salt beef and green bean salad

Serves 4

700-800g salted beef brisket or salted ox cheeks, soaked overnight in cold water 
2 onions, peeled and quartered 
2 carrots, peeled and trimmed 
10 black peppercorns 
4 garlic cloves, peeled 
A few sprigs of thyme 
100g French beans, trimmed 
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped

For the vinaigrette

1tbsp good-quality tarragon vinegar 
2tsp Dijon mustard 
1 garlic clove, peeled 
3tbsp olive oil 
3tbsp vegetable or corn oil 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the vinaigrette, put all of the ingredients into a jar. Shake it and leave to infuse overnight at room temperature.

Rinse the salt beef and put it into a saucepan with the onions, carrots, peppercorns, garlic and thyme. Cover well with water, bring to the boil and skim off the scum from the surface, then simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, topping up the water if necessary. It's difficult to put an exact cooking time on cuts of meat like this, so check it after 2 hours and if it's not tender, cook for another half an hour or so. Leave to cool in the liquid, but don't refrigerate.

Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes until tender, then drain well. Remove the beef from the cooking liquid and carve into 5mm-thick slices, breaking these up into bite-sized pieces. Mix with the beans and shallots, season to taste and dress well with the vinaigrette.

 

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