Tags

,


Flat Brisket in Pumpkin Stout. Two toned yeast bread

Braised Beef Brisket

Prep- 15 mins. Cook 3-4 hours

At least half the meals I cook in our house need to feed 6-10 people, and I often don’t know for sure how many when I start, so things need to be easily adjustable. I like this recipe because I can add extra vegetables, bread or biscuits easily to stretch when I suddenly wind up with 12 at the table, or leftovers are easily wrapped in puff pastry to make Cornish pasties if it turns out to have just been the three of us.

When you feed a crowd as often as I do, you learn how to make the most out of inexpensive ingredients. While still considered a ‘prime cut’, brisket, which is the breast muscle, is one of the least tender cuts of beef available, and therefore lower in price. There are two types of brisket, the point, which is from the top, generally has a fat cap and is a little better marbled, and the flat, which is…well…flat. Flats are usually the cheapest. They’re often packed more as an afterthought than anything, and readily available from any grocery store that has a butcher in house. The one I used today was a little under $6.00, and had virtually no fat, or marbling to redeem it. These cuts can be a recipe for shoe leather if you’re not careful what you do with them.  Prepared this way, the meat is fork tender, and even picky kids (or say, red meat averse cooks) will eat it.

WHAT

A flat beef brisket.
Peppercorns, chopped garlic, sea salt, dried onion, mustard seed- whatever combination floats your goat as a spice rub. Mine’s never the same twice. You can also buy ‘steak spice’ already made.
2-4 tbsp cooking oil (I avoid olive oil for this, since it burns at a lower temp than say, canola)
6-8 medium new potatoes
4-6 medium carrots
A large sweet onion
Beer of your choice (I use whatever guests leave behind, since I don’t drink beer. Today it was a pumpkin stout from some yuppie craft brewery) Beef likes strong beers, like ambers or stouts.
2 tbsp of tomato paste (optional)

EITHER

2 tbsp cornstarch and beef stock concentrate (or powder, or onion soup base, whatever you have- most cooking is pretty flexible, depending on what’s handy.)

OR

2 tbsp Beef Bisto (traditional, not instant)

OR

2 tbsp Flour and Worcester sauce for the traditionalists
HOW

Brush brisket with enough oil to make the spices stick, and season liberally, both sides. Heat another 2-4 of tablespoons of oil in large dutch oven (or your big spaghetti pot, whatever you have on hand. See? Flexible.), on stove top over medium heat.

Sear brisket on all sides, and then reduce temperature to simmer.

Add the beer. A single bottle is plenty. If using it, stir in the tomato paste until blended.

From here you can go two ways, either will work. You can stick with the stove-top if you don’t own a dutch oven, and your pot has plastic handles that will melt, or you can put the lid on your oven safe pot, and put it in the oven at 350. If sticking with the stove top, put the lid on and REALLY, reduce to SIMMER, no more. Meat’s weird. If you boil it, it will get tough. When braising, liquid should only just cover the meat, and it should never actively boil.

No go find something to do for 3 hours or so. Catch up on missed episodes of whatever tiddles your winks, take a nap, play with the kids, build a website…Maybe make the bread pictured above. (recipe to follow)

With about an hour to go, peel and chop onions and carrots into large chunks and add ’em to the pot. New potatoes are best just washed and quartered, not peeled. Chuck them in also. Put the lid back on, return to stove top/oven, and call your mom, or see if anything interesting is happening on Facebook. About an hour. Since I stuck with the stove top today, this was when I put the bread in the oven, so it would all be ready more or less together.

Once carrots and potatoes are fork tender, remove to serving platter. Lift the brisket out, and let it stand on the cutting board for a few minutes while you thicken the beer into a gravy. Turn up the heat under the remaining pan juices. Take a minute to stir while it heats back up so you can deglaze the pan you messed up when searing the meat at the beginning. It will make the gravy taste better, and make the pot easier to wash later. Whether using starch or flour, blend thoroughly with enough cold water to make an emulsion. I always add a little beef stock to cover the taste of the thickener, but do whatever you like. Whisk emulsion into boiling pan juices and let it bubble until it thickens. It should only take a minute or two. if it takes longer, you need more of whatever your thickening agent was.

NEVER ADD FLOUR OR CORNSTARCH DIRECTLY TO A HOT LIQUID.

Unless you really hate the people you’re cooking for and have a backup plan for feeding yourself.

Back to the brisket that’s been resting on the cutting board. LOOK AT IT before you cut it. Meat should always be cut across the grain, never with it, or you’ll end up with meat flavoured chewing gum. For most flat briskets, that means you have to cut it in half with the grain once, to get manageable cross-grain slices. Lay them across your platter of vegetables, and drizzle some of the stout/beer of your choice reduction over the lot.

Now you can serve to the table with only one dish. Another preference of mine when cooking for crowds.
TWO TONE YEAST BREAD

One of my son’s favourites. Showy, but not terribly difficult. I especially like the sweetness of the molasses bread with honey, for breakfast, personally. For rising, I usually just use my oven. I set a small glass or metal bowl full of water in the bottom, and heat to about 225. As soon as it indicates it’s up to temperature, I turn it off, wait about 5 min, and let the bread rise in the warm, humid space.

WHITE BREAD

WHAT

1 pkg (that’s 2 1/4 teaspoons for those of us who use enough of it to justify buying in bulk) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm milk (110-115 degrees. Think comfortable bath temperature)
2 tbsp plus 1 & 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tbsp plus 1 & 1/2 teaspoons shortening (this is just a little bigger than a golf ball)
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

HOW

In a large bowl, or for me, the bowl of my beloved stand mixer, with the paddle attachment to start, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add the sugar, shortening, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed (or by hand, with moderate enthusiasm) for about 3 mins. Stir in enough of the flour to make a soft, sticky dough. If you’re using the stand mixer, just switch to the dough hook and then add the rest of the flour. If doing it the hard way, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead in the rest of the flour by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic at this point.

Spray the inside of a large glass or metal mixing bowl with cooking spray, and put the dough in the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with a clean dishtowel and set in a warm place to rise. About one hour, though bread rarely suffers from a LONGER rising time.

WHOLE WHEAT/MOLASSES BREAD

WHAT

1 pkg (that’s 2 1/4 teaspoons for those of us who use enough of it to justify buying in bulk) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm milk (110-115 degrees. Think comfortable bath temperature)
2 tbsp plus 1 & 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tbsp plus 1 & 1/2 teaspoons shortening (this is just a little bigger than a golf ball)
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

HOW

In a large bowl, or for me, the bowl of my beloved stand mixer, with the paddle attachment to start, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add the sugar, shortening, salt, molasses and all-purpose flour. Beat on medium speed (or by hand, with moderate enthusiasm) for about 3 mins. Stir in enough of the flour to make a soft, sticky dough. If you’re using the stand mixer, just switch to the dough hook and then add the rest of the flour and let it do the work. If doing it the hard way, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead in the whole wheat flour by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic at this point.

Spray the inside of a large glass or metal mixing bowl with cooking spray, and put the dough in the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with a clean dishtowel and set in a warm place to rise. About one hour.

Yes, lazy blogger is lazy and TOTALLY copy/pasted most of that.

Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray

Once dough has doubled in size, punch it down by pressing into the center of the bowl and turning the sides inward. Divide each dough in half.

On a lightly floured surface, press half of the white dough into a more or less 9 X 12 rectangle.

Set aside.

Now do the same thing with half of the molasses dough. It might be a little denser/stickier. Don’t worry about it. Lay the rectangle of the molasses dough onto the rectangle of the white dough and go for a smoke or have a cup of coffee or something. They need to stick together. Beginning with the short edge, roll together to form a log, and pinch the seam to seal. Pay attention when you’re doing this, since air bubbles or too much flour between the layers will cause your layers to separate after baking. Makes sandwiches a pain later. Place log seam side down, into prepared loaf pan. Repeat with other half of the dough. Cover and let rise again. Depending on the day, this could be 30 min to an hour or more. Bread’s really an all day kind of project. It should about double in size, and puff nicely over the top of the pan. Bake at 375 degrees approx 40-50 min, or until tops are golden, and loaves sound hollow when tapped with your asbestos mom fingers.

Let cool completely on wire rack, and try not to eat it all.  It’s too pretty not to share.

Two tone yeast bread

Advertisements