Thursday, May 14, 2009

Food: Sweet and Sour Brisket with Brown-Beer-Braised Brussel Spouts

When I read this description about the Sweet and Sour Brisket in Ellie Krieger's "The Food You Crave," I knew I had to make it - Jonathan and I both love stuffed cabbage and I often crave things sweet and sour. When deciding what to serve with the brisket, I took a cue from Krieger's description. I decided this would be perfect served with "cabbage" (i.e. brown-beer-braised brussel sprouts (try saying that five times fast!)) and potato wedges (instead of mashers).
  • Per Krieger: "This dish takes pot roast, one of my all-time-favorite comfort foods, to new heights with a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce usually found in an Old World stuffed cabbage recipe. The brisket is meltingly tender and the familiar tangy-sweet, raisin-studded sauce makes you want to lick your plate clean. Growing up, we always had pot roast on special occasions. While this recipe is festive and makes enough to serve company, don't wait for a holiday to make it. You'll be glad for the leftovers any day of the week."
Simple Sides:

Brown-Beer-Braised Brussel Sprouts:
Heat stove burner to Medium. Take one small bag of brussel sprouts and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Add sliced sprouts to large pan with ~1/3 bottle of brown beer (I used Newcastle Brown Ale). Cook until the liquid has evaporated and sprouts are cooked but not mushy (generally takes less than 10 minutes), stirring occassionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Note: I've found that cooking brussel sprouts this way lends a nice texture to a dish and makes the normally strong flavor some people dislike, a little less potent. Brussel sprouts cooked this way also make a lovely bed when plating pork or beef medallions.

Quick Crispy Potatoes:
Take one package of baby Yukon Gold potatoes, wash, dry and slice into halves. Add wedges to a microwave-safe dish with enough water to cover all of the potatoes. Cook on high for 6 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain potatoes and place on an oven-safe plate, cut side up. Brush exposed side with olive oil (or spritz with a little cooking spray) and sprinkle with salt. Place potatoes under a broiler for 8-10 minutes until the cut side becomes brown and crispy (a toaster oven broiler will work just as fine as the oven).

The Main Dish:

Ellie Krieger's Sweet and Sour Brisket
1 (3-pound) beef brisket, first-cut or flat-half cut, trimmed of any excess fat
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, cut in 1/2, then thinly sliced into 1/2 moons
3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
One 15- oz. can tomato sauce, preferably no salt added
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/3 cup raisins (I only had golden raisins and they worked out fine)
5 black peppercorns
1 allspice berry (I didn't have a berry so I used a couple sprinkles of ground allspice)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pat the brisket dry and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or braising pot. Sear the brisket until it is browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and cook the onion, stirring a few times, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the vinegar, the raisins, peppercorns, and allspice and stir to combine well. Bring mixture to a boil, return brisket and any accumulated juices to the pot, spoon some of the tomato-vinegar mixture over the brisket, cover tightly, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the brisket is fork tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove the brisket from the oven, transfer the meat to a cutting board, and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes or, if serving later, cover and refrigerate the meat and sauce for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, cut the meat against the grain into 1/4- inch
thick slices. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar into the warm sauce. Return the sliced brisket to the sauce until heated through, then serve.

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