Aussie Day recipe: Smoked, beer-brined eye fillet of lamb

Paul Mercurio

Paul Mercurio

Yes, yes we all know it is Australia Day and we are supposed to eat lamb and drink good ale. That is pretty much what I will be doing and this is the recipe I will be using! I brine the eye fillet in my simple beer brine for two to three days before smoking it in my wok on the stove. If you have never used a beer brine before you are in for a real treat and if you have never tea smoked in your wok before, well, what can I say? This may be your first time but it won’t be your last!

My beer of choice for this would be a good Red Ale such as Nail Red Ale, an IPA like Holgate Road Trip or an Amber Ale – my favourite is brewed by me so you will have to find another one. I pick these styles as the malt sweetness will wrap around the salty smokiness of the meat, making it taste even better.

I like to cook this dish at public cooking demos to show people how easy it is to do a little bit of home smoking and how delicious the result is. Of course I have to brine the fillet at home as the meat sits in the brine for several days. I also use this brine for lamb rack which I also smoke and for fish fillets – although for fish you only need to leave them in the brine for a couple of hours. The smoked eye filet goes brilliantly with my lentil salad, you’ve been warned!

Tea-smoked beer-brined eye fillet
1 eye fillet – approx 550 – 600g
200g salt
200g of brown sugar
20 black pepper corns
3 bay leaves
3 pieces of lemon rind – no pith
1 litres of boiling water
2 litres of water
2 x 330mil bottles of dark ale, porter or stout.

Put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and lemon rind in a large pot and pour over the boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and then add in the cold water and beer and stir again. Put pot in the fridge to bring down the temperature. Once the brine is cool place the eye fillet in – it should be covered by the brine, cover the pot with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for two to three days turning the fillet each day.

Remove the fillet and pat dry with paper towels and place on a cake rack that is sitting on a plate. Put the plate in the fridge uncovered for 1 day so as to dry out the eye fillet – this is very important as the meat forms a pellicle which allows the smoke to stick to the meat.

Smoke mix:

½ cup of black tea
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of raw white rice

Mix all ingredients together well. Line a wok with three layers of Al Foil and pour the smoking mix in to the wok. Turn the heat to high and wait for the mix to begin to smoke, when it does place a wire rack in the wok and then place the eye fillet on to the rack over the smoking mix. Cover tightly and once the smoke is really going turn the heat down a little to a medium high. Smoke the eye filet until it reaches an internal temperature of between 63°c – 67°c. Depending on the thickness of the particular eye fillet you bought this may take anywhere from 25 mins – 40 mins. In fact when you buy your eye fillet try and get one that has uniform thickness from end to end that way when you cook it you won’t end up with a dry over cooked thin end and an under done thick end.

When cooked remove from the wok and allow to rest while you put some lentil salad in the middle of a plate in a kind of long oblong shape. Slice the meat in half centre meter slices and arrange 4 – 5 slices over and along the lentil salad.

Serves 4 – 6

Lentil, Parsley and Tomato Salad
This is one of those salads that I am happy to eat on its own for lunch or to serve up as a perfect accompaniment to whatever else I have cooked be it a steak, barbequed quail or some roast chicken. My favourite thing to serve this with though is my tea smoked eye fillet page xx it is fantastic and a great dinner party dish.

1 ½ cups of brown lentils
1 clove of garlic smashed
2 bay leaves
12 large cherry tomatoes – halved then halves cut into three
½ Spanish red onion – finely sliced
2 Lebanese cucumbers – peeled and cut into large dice
1 tablespoon of small capers
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
12 caper berries – optional but tasty
5tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of balsamic
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic – crushed
1 teaspoon of seeded mustard
Pinch of Salt
Black pepper

Put lentils, smashed garlic and bay leaves into saucepan with 6 cups of cold water. Place pan on high heat and bring to the boil then turn down and simmer for 15 – 20 mins or until the lentils are al dente. Strain, remove and discard the garlic and bay leaf then allow lentils to cool.

For the dressing put the olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, mustard, salt and pepper into a jar and shake well to combine – taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Combine the rest of the salad ingredients into a salad bowl and add the warm lentils then give it all a mix to combine. Pour over the dressing and mix again to combine well.

Serves 6

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