A Brisket In Your Basket
Lately, I’ve got brisket on the brain. It might be the bins of brine filled to the gills with corned beef or the piles of pastrami being sliced for stacked sandwiches but the versatile, humble brisket has become the object of my affection as of late. It is the perfect fit for this crossover season when sunny days that beckon us outside to lazily smoke a hunk of meat over a wood fire are followed by chilly nights requiring the comfort of a steamy pot au feu. Brisket leftovers are a prize and find their way into everything from enchiladas to an aromatic bowl of pho. Whatever the reason or the season, from a St. Patrick’s Day feast to a Passover Seder, you’ll need a brisket in your basket.
What you want is a nice fatty brisket, one woven with delicate ribbons of connective tissue. Don’t let its nearly inch thick cloak of fatty deliciousness intimidate you and definitely don’t prudishly trim it away! This fat is your brisket’s friend and its ticket to succulence. Whether you plan to braise, slow roast or smoke your brisket the fat cap will help to protect and moisten the meat during cooking. Salt your brisket at least a day in advance or treat it to a luxurious brine bath to allow the seasoning to penetrate it well. Brisket refuses to be rushed so plan on letting your brisket cook for the better part of a day. Braising your brisket? Cooking it the day before you plan on dishing it up will only serve to improve the flavor and allow you to easily degrease the braising liquor. Is all of this fuss worth it just for a brisket? One bite of melt in your mouth beefiness says yes!
Beer Braised Brisket
Beer and brisket go happily hand in hand. Use a creamy Belgian ale for a lighter braise or a porter for a richer, stickier dish.
• 4 pounds beef brisket, untrimmed
• Fine sea salt
• 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
• 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat or lard
• 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
• 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
• 1 bay leaf
• 4 cups beef broth
• 1 750 ml bottle of beer
Salt the beef well, cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the brown sugar, mustard and ginger together in a bowl and smear over the exterior of the salted brisket. Place the brisket into a roasting pan fitted with a rack and position in the center of the oven. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300°F.
In a Dutch oven or deep casserole large enough to accommodate the brisket, heat the bacon fat over medium high heat. Add the onions to caramelize, stirring frequently until they turn a deep golden brown. Season the onions with roughly 1 teaspoon of salt. Lower the heat, add the flour to the pan and cook for three minutes more, stirring all the while. Add the bay leaf, broth and beer and bring to a simmer. Taste the braising liquor for seasoning. Place the browned brisket into the liquid and lid. Transfer to the oven and gently braise the brisket for at least 3 to 4 hours, turning it over every 30 minutes, until it is fork tender.
Using a meat fork, remove the finished brisket from its braising liquor and transfer to a platter to rest. Check the braising liquor for seasoning and consistency. It should be well seasoned and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If not, reduce it over a low flame. Adjust the seasoning and degrease if necessary. Slice the brisket against the grain as thinly as possible and sauce with the braising liquor.
This brisket can be cooked up to 2 days in advance, making the brisket more flavorful and easier to slice and serve. Refrigerate the cooked brisket in its braising liquor to help keep it moist and flavorful. To serve, remove the brisket from its liquor and slice. Return the slices to the pot and gently warm them with the braising liquor.
Fatted Calf corned beef is ready just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. You don’t need the luck of the Irish to nab one of these succulent beauties. They are available right now at both our Napa and San Francisco locations for just $10.00 per pound.
Cooking Corned Beef
Corned beef is the dish that keeps on giving. We always cook a corned beef twice as big as we think we might reasonably need in hopes that the next day there will be a hot corned beef sandwich heaped with sauerkraut, caramelized onions and Muenster cheese and possibly enough shredded end bits for a hearty red flannel hash.
Choose a pot that is wide and deeper than your hunk of beef is tall (or possibly a deep roasting pan). Into your cooking vessel toss a leek, roughly chopped, a couple of carrots peeled but left whole, a clove or three of garlic, a stalk of celery and sprigs of thyme and parsley. Situate the corned beef brisket atop this aromatic bed and cover with cold water and perhaps a generous splash of beer. Bring to a simmer then place all of this in a low oven, about 300°F (150°C) for three to four hours. Prod the brisket with a meat fork to be sure it is tender and yielding before calling it quits. Let the meat rest in its cooking liquor for twenty or thirty minutes then transfer it to a carving board and slice it against its grain.
Seldom sticklers for tradition we prefer to cook the requisite cabbage and potatoes on the side. Cabbage sautéed with a bit of bacon until just tender and finished with a ladleful of the braising liquor is far tastier than the long boiled stuff. A steaming bowl of new potatoes with just a bit of butter and parsley will more than do or try a rustic root vegetable mash. A dollop of creamy horseradish sauce and a pot of strong mustard round out this fine Irish-American feast, a meal so good you may need to ration a bit for the next day’s sandwiches.
Spring will be here before you can say “Pass the Matzos, Easter Bunny!” and with it Passover and Easter. Now is the time to plan your spring celebration menu and place your special order for the holidays with The Fatted Calf.
SPRING HOLIDAY OFFERINGS
RABBIT BOUDIN 16.00/LB
BROKEN ARROW RANCH QUAIL 11.50 EACH
GREEN GARLIC & HERB PORK SAUSAGE
LAMB LEG ROASTS 16.50/LB
SEASONED WITH ROSEMARY, GARLIC, MUSTARD AND WHITE WINE
RACK OF LAMB 28.50/LB
KATZ ALL FLOWER HONEY GLAZED HAM 12.00/LB
SMOKED AND GLAZED HERITAGE HAMS (4-6 LBS EACH) READY TO HEAT AND SERVE
HERITAGE PORK LOIN AND BELLY ROULADE WITH ROSEMARY,FENNEL, SMASHED GARLIC, AND LEMON ZEST
DRY AGED BEEF STANDING RIB ROAST 26.50/LB
BEEF BRISKET 10.00/LB
FRESH HAMS & PORK ROASTS 8.00 TO14.00/LB
PASTURE RAISED HERITAGE PORK
*WE ARE HAPPY TO SEASON ANY ROAST OR CUT WE OFFER AT NO EXTRA CHARGE.
*LAMB BONES FOR SEDER AVAILABLE BY SPECIAL REQUEST
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