Sunday Dinner: Stewed Beef Brisket with Carrots and Onions

Monday, November 15, 2010

As the weather is getting colder here in Seattle, I'm finding myself cooking more and more inside. Goodbye outdoor grill and smoker -- see you in 7 months! (sigh) So when the weather gets tough, the tough get going vis-a-vis my handy dandy Le Crueset Dutch oven. You can make miracles in that thing. One pot + everything thrown in + slow roast = Holy Shit Goodness. And it's a super easy clean up which rocks if you're a busy mom like myself.

The other day I felt like beef brisket and potroast. Together. So I combined the two flavors and did a brisket potroast style with carrots, onions, garlic, and savory herbs. Everything cooked nice and slow until so soft and tender, and it was the perfect warming meal on a cool fall night. This recipe serves 2-4 easily for a family meal, but can be doubled to feed a crowd. A bright green salad like mache or arugula simply dressed with olive oil and lemon juice is a nice punch of color and bright flavor as well. Enjoy it.

Stewed Beef Brisket with Carrots and Onions
1 (4-pound) beef brisket, at room temperature
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper -- course ground if possible
2 white onions
4 carrots
2 celery stalk
6 cloves garlic
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 cup diced canned tomatoes with juice (recommend: San Marzano)
3 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine or stout beer, or 1 cup additional beef broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp cold water

Special equipment: Dutch oven or other oven-proof ceramic/cast iron pot with tight fitting lid

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take the brisket and pat very dry with paper towels. Discard the paper towels. Sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper all over the brisket, including within the crevices and folds. Place the brisket in the Dutch oven and set aside.

Peel the onions and trim off the ends. Cut each onion in half and then cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Dump them right on top of the brisket. Next, take the carrots and peel them and trim off the ends. Trim off the ends of the celery as well. Then chop the carrots and celery into 1 inch thick chunks. You want to try to make the carrot and celery pieces around the same size so they cook evenly, so this means you make have to cut the top portion of the carrots or celery where they are thicker in half first, and then into chunks. Place on top of the onions and brisket. Next add the tomatoes right on top. Season vegetables with a little salt and pepper -- about a teaspoon of each will do nicely -- to taste.

Peel the garlic cloves and trim off rough stem end. Smash the garlic with the flat side of your knife and roughly chop. Add the garlic to the vegetables and beef. Then add the bay leaf, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.

Add the beef broth right on top, as well as the wine or beer if using; if you're not planning to use wine or beer then go ahead and add the additional cup of beef broth then. You want to cover the beef about 3/4 of the way up and leaving about 1 inch from the top of the brisket to the liquid line, but not completely submerge it in liquid. If your brisket is "shorter" than normal, then hold back on the broth a little. Place in oven and cook for about 3-3.5 hours or until liquid has significantly reduced and most importantly, beef is fork tender. Meaning, the beef can be pierced with a fork and the meat is so tender it starts to break up.

You want to check on it once every hour, spooning the vegetables up and over the beef to help flavor it and to move them around on the bottom and sides so they don't stick.

To finish off the roast, take the brisket out of the oven and set on a stove-top. Carefully remove the beef from the pot and onto another plate while you thicken the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Then heat the vegetables and sauce on the stove-top on medium heat. Once simmering (it'll take under a minute), add the cornstarch mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The sauce will thicken within 30 seconds. Take off of flame and now ready to serve.

To serve, simply cut the brisket in 1/2 inch thick slices and return the meat and any juices back into the pot. Spoon out some beef and vegetables and sauce into a plate. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley if desired and serve hot!

Serving Suggestions:
Mashed potatoes
Dinner Rolls
Mache, Arugula, or Watercress salad with lemon vinaigrette

Makes great leftovers -- can be reheated right in pot or in the oven for 15 minutes on 350 degree oven.

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