me derby kell is well and truly stuffed! slow roasted beef brisket in ale with carrots and mushrooms - with Adnam's Broadside

where's the beef?
(carrots, mushrooms and beefy ale!)
There is an old music hall song from the early 1900s with the catchy refrain of "boiled beef and carrots", which was song by the Cockney artiste, Harry Champion (of "Any Old Iron" , "I'm Henery the Eighth, I am" and my favourite "A Little Bit of Cucumber").

Boiled beef and carrots,
Boiled beef and carrots,
That's the stuff for your "Derby Kell",
Makes you fit and keeps you well.

Don't live like vegetarians
On food they give to parrots,
Blow out your kite, from Morn 'til night,
On boiled beef and carrots.

"Derby Kell" or "Derby Kelly" (no relation) is Cockney rhyming slang for "belly" and after eating a slow braised beef brisket in ale with carrots and mushrooms, I was well and truly stuffed.

So if you haven’t thought about next Sunday's lunch, can I recommend this? It has deep, rich, meaty flavours, and is perfect wet, windy weather comfort food. It is also, by and large, one-pot cooking, so cuts down on the washing up! And the long, slow cooking in a good British ale creates its own gravy, so one less task to worry about too.

The beer I used is Adnam's Broadside, which is a dark beer with wonderful fruitcake flavours, brewed in Suffolk. I am a massive fan of Adnam's beers, for which I blame my father, Henry. He introduced me first to their East Green beer a few years ago - a light golden ale with a fabulous citrussy flavour, and one of the world's first carbon neutral beers
(in a successful attempt to wean me off  lager!) I succumbed to his blandishments (he is such a bad influence - although I am guessing that there aren't many people who can say that their 80-something year old father is leading them astray!)

Brisket is a cheaper cut of meat, since its open-grained texture needs long, slow cooking. However, it is definitely worth the effort as the flavour is wonderful - deep and distinctly beefy. However, if you buy salted brisket, you will need to soak it in water the day before to remove any excess salt.

Slow roasted beef brisket with carrots and mushrooms
Serves 6
Skill level: Easy

1.25kg boned and rolled brisket (unsalted)
vegetable oil
large knob of butter
2 x large onions, halved and sliced
2-3 x celery sticks, finely chopped
2 x large carrots, sliced on the diagonal
250g large field mushrooms, thinly sliced (include the chopped stalks too)
2 x bottles of dark brown ale or stout (about 660ml - you might not use it all, so extra is the cook's tipple!) - I used Adnam's Broadside, which has fruitcake flavours!)
a few fresh thyme sprigs
2 x bay leaves
1-2 tsp light muscovado sugar (depending on the bitterness of the beer)
half tsp ground mace
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)


  1. The night before cooking, place the brisket in a large bowl and pour over about 500 millilitres of ale. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day, drain the meat, reserving the ale. Pat dry and season.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 190c / Gas Mark 5.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the brisket so that it is lightly browned all over. Put on a lidded casserole dish or deep roasting pan, while cooking the vegetables.
  4. Using the same pan, add a knob of butter. Add the onions and carrots and fry for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the reserved ale, together with the bay leaves, ground mace, thyme and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Check the seasoning and add more sugar if necessary.
  6. Pour all the vegetables and liquid over the brisket. The liquid needs to come up to about two-thirds of the brisket. If it doesn't, add the rest of the beer, or water (or even vegetable or beef stock. Cover tightly with a lid or with kitchen foil.
  7. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160C / Gas Mark 3 and continue to cook for 2 hours until tender. During the cooking, turn the brisket twice and make sure that the liquid isn’t drying out. Add a little more water if necessary.
  8. Remove the beef and cover with foil, to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  9. To serve, use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables and place in a warmed serving bowl. Add the mustard to the cooking juices and whisk to combine. Pour a little over the vegetables and the rest into a gravy jug to serve.
  10. Scatter a little finely chopped parsley over the vegetables.
  11. Serve with roasted parsnips and mashed swede (and spuds, if you can't live without them!)


  • Add a finely chopped clove of garlic or two, while the onions are cooking.
  • A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce or tomato purée wouldn't go amiss either.
  • Add some baby turnips to the casserole about 1 hour before the end of cooking. 

Best of British blog challenge entry

Because I think of this as being quintessentially a British recipe, I am entering it into Fiona at London Unattached's Best of British blog challenge, together with A Whole New World, the blog for the New World appliances site. Fingers crossed!


fiona maclean said...

lovely recipe, you know you COULD enter this one for best of british this month - chance to win £300 amazon vouchers. Judged by Brian Turner

Janice said...

Love brisket, it has so much flavour.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Fiona - thank you so much for thinking about me! I will definitely be entering!

Janice - isn't brisket wonderful? Sadly underrated these days - well amongst my friends it is! But since I am on a strict budget these days it suits my pocket too!

Anonymous said...

Love the fact that you are using a good British ale too - have you tried their Christmas one?

Simon Christie said...

Now this is my type of cooking - beer and beef, yes!!!