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Braised Brisket, Almost Hands Free Cooking

Beef Brisket
Beef Brisket

Most people either know how to cook a brisket or they don't, or so it seems. Most of the recipes that I have encountered have been handed down by Moms everywhere; yet they all use a method of cooking called braising. Braising sounds like it takes a long time, well, it does but it's not time that you need to be in the kitchen. It takes time in the oven or your slow cooker and in about 30 minutes you can have the dish ready to cook for several hours on its own. Not only does it make the house smell wonderful, you have one or two hearty delicious meals ahead.

Braising is a two-step method of cooking tough cuts of meat. Brisket is relatively inexpensive, so buy the largest piece that you can but remember it must fit into your slow cooker or Dutch oven. Braising begins with sautéing, or browning the meat and vegetables, then cover with liquid, herbs and spices and bake for several hours at a low heat. The result is mouth wateringly tender meat and vegetables.

The first step is the most important as this is where you develop the flavor for the dish.

Season the brisket well with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the oil in your Dutch oven* over medium-high heat; add the brisket fat side down first. Let the meat cook undisturbed until browned then turn and brown the other side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the butter and when melted add onion, celery, carrots and parsnip to the pan, season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and, stirring occasionally, cook until slightly translucent. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Tie together the thyme, bay leaf and parsley with kitchen twine, return the meat to the pan, add the remaining ingredients and place the tied herbs under the liquid. Cover and place into the oven for 3-4 hours to transform into a delicious, warm and hearty meal. Remove tied herbs from liquid, remove meat and let rest for about 30 minutes. Heat remaining liquid over a medium high heat and reduce until slightly thickened. Cut the brisket against the grain and serve over roasted fingerling potatoes or egg noodles. Add a crisp winter salad and a chunk of crusty bread for dipping.

1      large brisket

        sea salt and pepper

2-3   tablespoons canola oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan

2      tablespoons unsalted butter

1      medium onion, about 1 cup, diced

2      stalks celery, diced

3      carrots, peeled and diced

2      parsnips, peeled and diced

2      tablespoons flour

1      tablespoon garlic powder

1      sprig thyme

1      bay leaf

3      sprigs Italian parsley

1      28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed with juice

1/2   cup Worcestershire sauce

1      cup soy sauce

1/2   cup red wine

1-2   cups beef or chicken broth, enough to cover the ingredients by a few inches

* If using a slow cooker, brown the meat and vegetables in a large sauté pan and add to the slow cooker after you add the flour and cook the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Cook on low about 10 hours or high for 5-6; check your slow cookers manual for instructions.

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