Brisket: The Better Way to Beef

Ok folks. We have to talk about Brisket. Here’s what I love about the “Ugly Duckling” of the Beef family:

  1. It’s the cheapest cut of grass-fed beef you can buy. 
  2. It comes in a giant slab of righteousness
  3. You can make enough food to feed a large family (or in our case, 2 adults for about a week)
  4. It’s crazy delicious with minimal effort. 

This dish may not look pretty, but my man took it to lunch on Monday, and it smelled so good that his co-workers were asking about it all week. Not exaggerating. 

 

For the Brisket, I did a mashup of this recipe (which I will try in its full glory once I have a roasting pan with a lid, but sadly that isn’t part of my kitchen arsenal. I’ve been lusting after this Lodge roasting pan for months, in case you are looking for gift ideas ;) and this recipe (since I DO have a crock pot). Below I’ve outlined the ingredients I used and steps I followed. Please note: this seems like a lot of steps, and admittedly is not one of the simpler recipes I have posted, but it yields a good amount of food, so it's worth it :)

Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket with Caramelized Onions

Ingredients:

  • 3.5-6lbs slab of grass-fed beef brisket
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a handful of dried thyme 
  • 6 cloves of garlic (or more if you like garlic, cuz who’s counting)
  • 2 cups broth (i used chicken stock I made in the crock pot, but any broth will do—beef, bone broth, vegetable stock, etc)
  • 2 tbs tamari soy sauce (gluten free)
  • 1 tbs grain mustard 
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar (they said worcester but I didn’t have any, so I improvised with mustard and balsamic and it was amazing! Who knew)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Equipment:

  • Crock Pot
  • baking sheet
  • oven with broiling function
  • a good knife
  • large cutting board

Prep:

  1. Slice your onions in half, root to top, and quickly scoop out the core and throw it away (because there’s no crying in Brisket) Then slice your onion halves in 3/4-1in rounds. Don’t get out your ruler, the exact measurement doesn’t matter, but you do want thick half moons, so they don’t break down too much over the long cooking process. 
  2. Turn on your oven to BROIL (ideally there is an open flame available) and place a heavy duty baking sheet as close as possible to that heat, so it gets hot. 
  3. Season your slab o’ brisket with coarse kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, crushed bay leaves and thyme. 

Cook:

  1. Place the brisket slab on the baking sheet, fat cap up, and sear under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until it is crusted and golden. SET A TIMER for 2 minutes! Repeat for the other side. 
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop your garlic in coarse chunks. Dump those in the crock pot
  3. Heat a skillet to medium high, and add some fat to the pan. Add onions, and some salt. Stir often, so you get delicious caramelized onion goodness. Once they are translucent and you have some awesome brown edges, they are ready. Turn skillet off and leave those be. 
  4. Mix up your broth. I used bone broth that I had made a few weeks ago and frozen in ice cube trays, so I defrosted mine, then added the mustard, balsamic, and tamari. 
  5. Once your Brisket is crusty and golden on both sides, transfer it to the crock pot, pour in the broth, plop the onions from the skillet all over the meat, cover and set to cook on low for 8 hours. Depending on how many pounds of meat you are cooking, you may want more or less time. About 2 hours per pound is a good rule of thumb. 

Enjoy:

  1. When the brisket is done, a fork will go into the meat easily. Pull the slab out with tongs and set in on a cutting board (ideally one with a trough around the edge, as it will produce some liquid) let rest for 8 minutes. 
  2. Scoop out your onions with a slotted spoon, and set aside for later enjoyment. 
  3. Slice your brisket into thick slabs. It's important not to cut it too thin if you are planning to eat it as leftovers, because it can dry out. 

If you want to make a sauce with the drippings…

  1. Take the crock pot insert out and let it cool on the counter. Once it’s at room temperature, put in the refrigerator over night. The fat will form a hard layer on top, and you can easily scoop it out and throw it away. Then you’ll have ample brothy goodness to make a sauce or gravy. This is handy if you are planning to pair this dish with my Caramelized Cabbage & Roasted Cauliflower with Aged Cheddar Sauce. Which I would highly recommend. 
  2. You can also use the broth to keep the brisket from drying out during reheating, by pouring a spoon or two over the meat before you microwave it. 

I paired my brisket with a low-carb variation of this Roasted Cauliflower and Caramelized Cabbage Pasta recipe from TheKitchn. I subtracted the pasta, and doubled the cabbage. It’s crazy good. 

 Photo creditL 

Photo creditL 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND CABBAGE “PASTA” WITH FRIED CAPERS

Ingredients

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium heads Savoy cabbage (or about 2 lb.), cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup large capers, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup ghee, bacon fat, or avocado oil (Something with a high smoke point)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional!)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower third and a baking sheet on the rack. Carefully remove the hot baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of your high-smoke-point fat of choice. Add cauliflower and drizzle with 2 tablespoons fat. Season liberally with salt and pepper and shake pan to distribute cauliflower in an even layer. Return baking sheet to oven and roast about 20-25 mins. Stir Cauli at this point, and assess if it is sufficiently deeply golden on the pan-contact side. If so, stir to flip and bake another 7 mins. If not, leave it be and bake another 7 minutes. In total, it should take 30-45 mins, depending on your over and the size of the caulk chunks. 

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Cook until lightly browned and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage, shallot, thyme sprigs, and a healthy amount of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until cabbage is wilted and deeply golden, about 15-20 minutes. Add white wine and cook until nearly evaporated, scraping the bottom of pan to deglaze. Turn off heat until ready to assemble the dish.

In a small skillet, heat remaining high-smoke-point fat of choice on medium high. You want the oil good and hot in order to crisp up your capers, so test it by dropping one in the pan—if it sizzles like and angry toddler throwing a tantrum, the oil is ready.  Add capers and fry until crisp and light golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer capers to a paper towel-lined plate.

Pile cabbage on your plate, throw a handful or two of cauliflower on top, sprinkle with capers, and cozy a few slabs of brisket up next to that. Drizzle with Cheddar sauce, add some fresh cracked pepper, and make your co-workers jealous. 

 

...FOR THE AGED CHEDDAR SAUCE 

(totally optional! We ate this dish with and without, and it's equally good both ways. If dairy isn't your jam, or you need to eat less fat right now, leave it out.)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese 
  • 1 cup Broth from your Brisket

Directions

Use the caper skillet. Pour out any excess oil. Add 1 Cup of reserved brisket broth, and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the grated cheddar, stirring constantly. Just as the cheese melts and it becomes saucey, add the chopped thyme and stir for 30 seconds, until the sauce becomes incredibly, mouth-wateringly fragrant. Drizzle sauce over the