Pickled Beef with Soda Scones

At the Uphala festival in the Shetlands this is traditionally served. I like to think of the Scots islanders carrying it as portable fare on their galleys and even the Norse Vikings before them. Once you have pickled your beef there are so many ways you can use it (see Boiled Beef with Lentils and Fennel). This amount of beef will serve 8-10.


  • 1.5kg/3lb brisket or silverside
  • 225g/8oz coarse salt
  • 55g/2oz brown sugar
  • 55g/2 oz black treacle
  • 225g/8oz carrots, sliced
  • 55g/2oz onion, finely chopped

For The Spice and Herb Mix

  • (this mix of herbs and spices will need to be replenished several times during the process)
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of thyme
  • black pepper, coarsely crushed
  • 1 crushed bayleaf
  • 1 tbsp saltpetre

For The Scones

  • 450g/1 lb plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 85g/3oz lard
  • 300ml/½ pint buttermilk, or sour milk


Have the meat boned and trimmed but not rolled, rub well with the salt and leave overnight. Prepare the herb and spice mixture. Remove the beef from the salt and wipe dry, rub the meat thoroughly with the spice mixture and leave covered in a cool place for 2 days.

Pour the warmed treacle over the meat and spread carefully, then rub the spices into the meat every day for a week.

At the end of the week, roll the spiced beef up and tie firmly with string. Put in a pan of boiling water with the carrots and onions. Simmer gently for 3 hours. If eating cold leave the meat to cool in the liquid.

To make the soda scones, sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda, tartar and salt. Rub in the lard to a crumbly mixture, pour in the milk stirring with a knife until the mixture is smooth. Shape into 5cm/2in rounds about 1cm/½in thick, set on greased baking sheets and bake at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for 8–10 minutes until risen and golden.