Monday, March 21, 2011

Tangy Spiced Brisket

Crockpots and the like often get a bad rap, with people assuming that all slow cooker recipe are going to have cream of some unidentifiable substance soup involved, or that their food is going to dry out, or that the slow cooker is going to burn down the house while they're at work.  But I love my slow cooker.  How else can I come home to dinner mostly ready after a long day at work?

One of my favorite uses for my slow cooker is to cook meat.  Even the cheapest, toughest cuts come out tender, and practically melt in your mouth.  Chicken, pork, beef, all of it can be good in the slow cooker.

A particular favorite in my house is slow-cooked brisket.  It can feed a crowd, or leftovers can be frozen for a quick meal on another busy weeknight, turned into quesadillas or sandwiches, or used to top pasta or gnocchi.

Adapted just a bit from Smitten Kitchen, this is everything its name promises.  Tangy from the acidity of the ketchup and chili sauce, slightly spicy from the cayenne, cumin and paprika, this did not disappoint.  Like Deb urges, I set this to cook overnight, then popped it into the fridge to chill while I was at work.  Then a quick reheat in the oven while I made the rest of the sides stovetop, and dinner was ready.  The only hard part was not eating it for breakfast!

Tangy Spiced Brisket

What's in it:

2 large onions, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
pinch cayenne (adjust to your heat preference)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce (I used Heinz)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
4-5 pound brisket

How to make it:

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and sauté onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most of liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add halved garlic cloves and saute for 3 minutes more. Stir in spices and seasoning and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the beef stock, ketchup, chili sauce and brown sugar.

Place brisket in a slow cooker, spread onion mixture over the top, then pour sauce mixture over the entire dish. Cover with the lid and cook it on LOW for 8-10 hours. 

When the brisket is cooked but still hot, use a spoon to scrape off any large fat deposits adhered to the top and bottom of the brisket. (The fat will be removed from the sauce  after it has chilled.)

Transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish.  Chill entire dish in the fridge for several hours and up to one day; this resting time will significantly enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.

An hour before you’re ready to serve it, preheat your oven to 300°F, and remove the dish from the fridge. Remove all of the fat that has solidified with a slotted spoon for a less oily finish.

Carefully remove the meat from its sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into 1/2-inch slices.  If you like a smoother sauce this is a good time to run it through a blender or literally just smash up the onion and garlic strands with a wooden spoon. 

Carefully place the sliced meat (moving it in large sections with a spatula helps keep it together) back into the sauce and spoon the sauce over the meat. Replace the lid or cover the dish tightly with foil and reheat in the oven until it is bubbling at the edges — this usually takes up to to 30 minutes.

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