Sunday, June 4, 2017

Brisket experimentation

It's officially winter in Canberra! There was frost on the grass on Friday morning - can you see it?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for actual snow this year. (It's only snowed twice the entire time I've lived here, and it's never stuck, but I live in hope.)

Cold weather turns my thoughts to cold-weather food, and I recently discovered that my favorite beef sellers at the farmers' market sell brisket. I bought one a couple of weeks ago and followed a typical recipe, but it didn't produce quite the results I was hoping for. This time around I decided to take a slightly different approach:

1. When I got home from the farmers' market Saturday morning, I opened the plastic wrapping, liberally seasoned the brisket with salt and pepper, re-wrapped it, and stuck it in the fridge.

2. Saturday evening, while preparing dinner, I sauteed some red onions and chopped mushrooms in olive oil and pork fat.

3. After dinner, I turned the slow cooker on to low, dumped in the onions and mushrooms, and added a couple of anchovy fillets, and took the brisket out of the fridge. After letting all that warm up for a bit while I did other stuff, I added half a bottle of red wine, half a can of ginger ale (both of which needed to be used up), and a packet of tomato paste (about 2 Tbsp/60g), and let that heat up as well.

4. The last thing I did before bed was sliding the brisket into the hot liquid. I left it to cook on low overnight.

5. This morning when I got up, I turned off the slow cooker and let everything cool off for a bit. At this point the brisket had been cooking on low for about 9 hours.

6. After everything had cooled for a bit, I took out the brisket. Then I strained the cooking liquid into a jug and put it in the fridge, adding the solids in with the brisket and putting that in the fridge separately.

7. (The point of cooling the liquid is to separate out the fat - brisket produces a lot of fat, and one of the things I didn't like last time was how greasy it made the sauce. (This is also why I cooked it ahead of time - so there was time to do this.))

8. About an hour before serving, I put the brisket back in the slow cooker on low; scraped the now-congealed fat off the top of the sauce in the jug; and put the sauce on the stove to reheat. I got it thoroughly hot, then whisked in a few big spoonfuls of sour cream and mustard. When it was fully heated, I poured it back into the slow cooker and left it all to finish heating through.

9. Just before lunch, I removed the brisket to a cutting board and sliced it (very tender); put the sauce in a jug; and served it for Sunday lunch with potato gratin (with blue cheese), braised peas, and bread:

I'm definitely going to use this method going forward. Any other tips from brisket experts are welcome!

And finally, this week's flower selection - enjoy!



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