First, a short announcement.
I’ve started a new Facebook “fan” page for my blog. I feel uncomfortable saying “fan” so let’s keep it simple and informal. If you like Facebook and you’d like to get post updates there, click here to check it out and join me. Thanks!
Now, where were we? Oh, yeah, brisket.
Brisket is really not something you spontaneously make, right?! Just like with chicken stock it needs some planning ahead. In most recipes you have to marinate it for hours before cooking or sear it to brown and sauté an onion or other vegetables before you move on to the next step of cooking the brisket for hours and hours. But, as with the stock, I have found a way around it.
But first, why bother to make brisket if it takes such a long time to braise?
Brisket is a fairly cheap piece of meat. And a very large one. You cook it once and can have multiple dinners made out of it. It freezes well! So any leftovers – and you’ll probably have leftovers, unless you have lots of people around the table eating it – can be frozen for a few weeks. When cooking it, you don’t have to mess with it too much as long as your oven (preferably, but a burner on the stovetop works too), is free for 4-6 hours for this tough big mama to slowly cook and break down and become soft and tender.
In short, it’s worth the trouble.
I wanted to cook brisket the other day. It’s been a while since the last time I made it. About a year or so… But I felt lazy and procrastinated with cooking it. Then a day before our trip I had to cook it because I had no other plans for dinner, because otherwise it would have gone bad, and because I knew that if I cook it then, we will have an already-cooked meals/s when we return from the trip (and gain an extra care-free day from grocery shopping and cooking – a bonus).
I have a few favorite brisket recipes that I like, but that day, because I waited for the last moment, it was too late to make them. So, I thought I’ll just have to wing it and take a chance with something I make up as i go and see if it works.
It turned out pretty good.
Since this was something I made with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I don’t have an exact recipe. In truth, I didn’t think my many shortcuts will work and end up as anything edible. But it id did. I guess it’s tough to screw up with a hearty brisket as long as it is cooked till tender.
Lesson learned: take a risk, improvise, it might end up being a success.
If you own a slow-cooker (I don’t), check out what Deb did with her brisket.
Place a 4-5 lb. brisket in a big and deep stainless steal pan (don’t use aluminum, it interacts with acidic ingredients like tomato sauce and vinegars and will taste bla. Also, your pan will discolor).
Sprinkle generously with salt and ground black pepper on both sides. Add a quick splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Add spices such as a steak rub, a BBQ rub, a curry mixture, some light brown sugar. I wanted to add minced garlic cloves but I forgot. A chopped onion and dried fruits around the meat will be nice too.
Pour a 28 oz. can of marinara sauce + 1/2 cup water on and around the beef and rub all this on both sides. Cover the pan loosely with foil (or a lid, if you have one that fits). Be careful that the foil does not touch the tomato sauce covered meat because this will cause the foil to blacken and even make holes in it after a while (that’s the reaction of aluminum foil to acid).
I cooked it at 400 F degrees (with the convection oven on) for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350-300 F and cook another 4-6 hours* until it’s soft and tender and can be cut easily.
* We cut a piece from the edge after 4 hours in the oven and had some for dinner, then put the meat back in the oven for another 2 hours.
After it’s fully cooked, slice against the grain. Store any leftovers in freezer-friendly containers and label with the name and date.