Boiled Beef in Ale and Treacle

Alan Coxon's spiced brisket is slow-cooked to melting tenderness, then served with an easy tomato chutney and creamy mashed potatoes
By Alan Coxon
Boiled Beef in Ale and Treacle
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8-10
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus marinating and cooling time
  • Effort: easy


  • 150 ml ale-gar or balsamic vinegar
  • 125 g treacle
  • 125 g mixed fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and parsley, tied in a bundle
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 900 g onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1.8 kg lean beef brisket, boned, rolled and tied
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.1 litres light ale

For the tomato chutney

  • 2 kg tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lemons, grated zest only
  • 750 g brown sugar
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 3cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500 ml dry red wine

To serve

  • mashed potato, or caramelised sweet potatoes


1. In a large bowl, combine the ale-gar or balsamic vinegar, treacle, herbs, spices, onions, garlic and some salt. Stir to mix, then bury the beef in the marinade and leave for 8-12 hours, rolling it occasionally to ensure that it is well covered.

2. To cook the meat, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based casserole or saucepan. Lift the beef from the marinade, add it to the pan and brown all over.

3. Meanwhile, strain the marinade, keeping the onions and liquid separate, discarding the herbs.

4. Add the onions to the pan of meat and cook until lightly browned. Pour in the marinade followed by the ale. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat under the pan to very low and simmer gently for 3 hours. (Alternatively, transfer to a preheated oven set to 170C/gas 3.)

5. Meanwhile, to make the tomato chutney, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of jam. Pour into hot, sterilised jars and leave to cool.

6. When the meat is ready, serve with rich, creamy mashed potatoes, or caramelised sweet potatoes, and a dollop of the tomato chutney.

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