Following the blog on cheaper cuts, it seems only right to demonstrate the principle by cooking my favourite dish with that excellent cut of beef, brisket. So long as you cook brisket slowly, there are any number of supremely tasty dishes you can cook with it. For example, brine it and boil it and you have excellent salt beef; slow roast it over onions and you have the most incredibly succulent cheap dinner; braise it and you can make gorgeous pulled beef, along the lines of pulled pork served in American BBQ pits; and with the same method you can make brilliant potted beef too.
But best of all is pot roast beef, which is dead simple and produces the most heavenly gravy. It works best if you cook it a day in advance and reheat slowly. The method is very like braising, except with a roasting piece you can slice before serving, and is not completely covered with liquid. This is my personal recipe, though it could be amended without any difficulty, depending on your tastes.
- Brisket of beef in one piece, circa 1lb weight per 2 people, but I recommend doing more than enough since the leftovers make sublime dishes in their own right.
- Decent red wine – half a bottle will do
- Beef stock – preferably home-made, but otherwise the best quality commercial stock cube/gel and some boiling water (less than recommended on the box)
- 1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2-3 shallots, peeled and halved
- 1 leek, roughly chopped
- Small piece of swede
- 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed but not chopped
- 3-4 Juniper berries, lightly crushed to release their flavour
- Good quality bouquet garni and/or few parsley stalks, bay leaves and thyme sprigs
- Teaspoon of Lea & Perrins Worcester sauce
- Teaspoon of strong creamed horseradish
- Teaspoon of mustard powder
- Teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- Teaspoon of sea salt (careful not to overdo this if you are using commercial stock cubes)
- Half teaspoon smoked paprika
- Half teaspoon of sugar
Heat some olive oil on the hob in in a large cast iron casserole til smoking. Rapidly brown the brisket on all sides, then add the veg except garlic. Stir well to coat on all sides in hot oil. Add the garlic, herbs and seasonings. Stir well in. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Cook for a few more seconds. Add the stock til the liquid is roughly half way up the meat. Bring back to the boil.
Cover the casserole and transfer to a slow oven (I use the slow oven in the Aga.) Cook for 3-4 hours, then remove. Take out the meat and leave in foil overnight. Drain the veg leaving a tasty gravy ready to be thickened.
Before serving, leave the meat in the foil and warm up in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or so. Slice and serve with your favourite spuds and veg, plus that wonderfully aromatic gravy. The meat should be so tender it falls apart when prodded with a fork.