Elizabethan Spiced Christmas Beef

A cold cut to prepare just before Christmas for consumption with other cold cuts, pickles, and a good dollop of mustard.

Utterly delicious and spicy.


3lb (1.3kg) topside of beef ½ (300ml) pint beef stock
¼ teaspoon powdered cloves 3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
¼ teaspoon powdered mace 6 juniper berries, crushed
¼ teaspoon coarsely crushed black pepper 1 bouquet garni
¼ teaspoon coarsely crushed allspice 1 carrot, chopped
½ dessertspoon dried thyme 1 stick of celery, chopped
4oz (100g)moist dark brown sugar 1 onion, chopped
4oz (100g) sea salt 2 wineglasses port


  1. Mix powdered and crushed spices and together.
  2. Stir half this mixture into the sugar.
  3. Remove any suet from the beef and stand it in a shallow dish. Cover the beef with the mixture. Leave to stand for 24 hours.
  4. Next day, rub salt, bay leaves and crushed juniper into the meat. Let it steep in this mixture in a cool place for 5 days, turning it every day.
  5. When ready to cook meat, rinse it and soak it for 1 hour in cold water.
  6. Dry it well, spread reserved spices over the beef. Put in to a casserole in which it just fits.
  7. Surround it with the bouquet garni, chopped vegetable, port and stock and cover tightly with a lid.
  8. Cook in a low oven 150ºC, 300ºF, Gas Mark 2 for 2½ - 3 hours. Allow to cool to lukewarm in the liquid, then take meat our and put it between two plates with a 1lb weight on the top. Leave it pressing overnight.

Next day it is ready to eat. Serve sliced, with pickles and plenty of English mustard.


Elizabethan recipes

Cold Cuts