Despite its name, Filipino beef morcon is not the same as the Spanish sausage called morcon. In the Philippines, morcon is a roulade. Meat is pounded to flatten, marinated, stuffed, rolled, tied and braised in tomato sauce. The traditional stuffing consists of sticks of carrot, hard-boiled eggs, sausages and cheese.
I deviate from the traditional with this slow cooker Filipino beef morcon. In what ways?
1. I cooked the beef morcon in the slow cooker. So convenient and the results are awesome.
2. The beef is marinated corned beef-style. Instead of the usual soy sauce and kalamansi juice combo, I let the beef sit in a brine. And just like corned beef, the brine includes prague salt to give the meat a more attractive color. Just to be clear, prague salt is NOT the same as saltpeter (salitre). Prague salt is sold in the spice section of better groceries and supermarkets.
3. The brine also includes baking soda, a known meat tenderizer. Baking soda not only cuts down the cooking time, it also gives the meat a different texture. See, I abhor stringy meat that had been cooked to death to the extent that the meat has turned dry. If you’re familiar with the texture of meat in Chinese stir fries, it is baking soda that gives meat that bouncy texture.
4. The stuffing includes bacon. Lots of fatty bacon. Not only does bacon add flavor to the beef morcon, the fat helps the meat stay moist.
Because it is a bad idea to slice morcon while still hot, I cooled the morcon then put it in the fridge overnight to allow the fats to coagulate and keep the meat together to prevent the morcon from falling apart during slicing.
The sliced morcon was reheated in the microwave (the dish covered with cling film to keep moisture in) while the tomato sauce was reheated on the stove top. When both were hot, I spooned the sauce around the sliced morcon, sprinkled the dish with scallions and served it.
Here is the recipe.
- 500 grams of beef round (top round, eye round and bottom round are all good)
- For the brine:
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ teaspoon prague salt
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 bay leaf
- For the stuffing:
- 150 grams fatty belly bacon
- 1 whole pickle, cut into halves lengthwise
- 1 carrot, cut into sticks
- sausages, cut into halves lengthwise
- 1 hard-boiled egg, cut lengthwise into quarters
- For browning and braising:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- Pound the beef with a mallet to a thickness of about half an inch. Cut into a square or rectangle (use the trimmings for another dish). Place in a resealable bag.
- In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for the brine with a cup of water. Pour into the bag with the meat. Seal the bag and keep in the fridge overnight.
- Rinse the beef and pat dry with paper towels.
- Lay the beef flat. Note the beef grain. You want to slice the morcon across the grain after it is cooked so all the stuffing ingredients should be arranged in the same direction as the beef grain.
- Arrange the bacon slices to cover the entire surface of the beef.
- Near one end of the beef square, arrange the carrot sticks, celery, sausages, pickle halves and egg quarters. Again, arrange them in line with the meat grain.
- Roll up the meat as tightly as you can then tie up with kitchen twine.
- Heat the butter and olive oil. Brown the rolled beef lightly.
- Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker.
- Pour the remaining olive oil and butter over it followed by the tomato sauce. Cook for eight hours on LOW or for five hours on HIGH.
- Cool the morcon in the sauce. Chill overnight to make slicing easier and neater.
- Lift the morcon off the sauce. Reheat the sauce in a small sauce pan until simmering.
- Cut and the discard the kitchen twine. Cut the morcon across the grain into half-inch slices.
- Arrange the morcon slices in a shallow bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film (leave a small opening for steam vent). Heat in the microwave oven on HIGH for two minutes. Spoon the sauce around the sliced morcon. Sprinkle with scallions. Serve the slow cooker Filipino beef morcon with rice or bread.
I used homemade tomato sauce which was already flavored with garlic, onion and oregano. If using commercial tomato sauce, you will have to mix it with sauteed garlic, onion and oregano. Season it too with salt and pepper.