Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easy, Tasty Brisket

Charlie and I had a potluck a few days ago and the theme was "Where You're From" (it may or may not have been inspired by this episode of Top Chef). Since we're approaching Passover, I decided to make a brisket. I knew we were going to have a lot of people at our apartment, so I wanted to find a recipe that wasn't too labor intensive and would allow me to make a large amount of food. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen which is based off of an Emeril recipe. I loved the slow-cooker method. Here's my version - enjoy!

Serves 10-12 servings

3 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (adjust to your heat preference)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
1 cup ketchup*
1 cup chili sauce* (I used this random bottle of Shaw's chili sauce that I had. You could also use a can of tomato paste and a squirt or two or sriracha for a similar effect)
1 cup brown sugar
8 to 10 pound brisket
* If you are very strictly kosher for Passover you’ll want to find versions without corn syrup in them.

Prepare the sauce: 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 (paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne, oregano and thyme) and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a 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 9-10 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. (This part is easiest to do when hot. The sauce will be de-fatted after it has chilled.)

If your slow cooker has a removable inner dish, take that out of the slow cooker and put it into the fridge. Alternately, you can 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.

You can reheat the brisket either in the oven or in the slow cooker. Deb from Smitten Kitchen reheated hers in the oven, but I decided to make this a real one-pot meal and reheat it in the slow cooker. If you're using the slow cooker, remove the dish from the fridge two hours in advance. If you're using the oven, remove the dish One hour before you’re ready to serve it and preheat the oven to 300°F.

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. I had some trouble keeping my slices intact - I guess my brisket was just too tender :-).

If you like a smoother sauce, you can either run it through a blender or stick an immersion blender into the sauce.

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 slow cooker or oven until it is bubbling at the edges — this usually takes up to to 30 minutes in the oven and 75 minutes in the slow cooker on high.

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