Sunday, October 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Brisket

There is something really great about making brisket at home!  One reason I love to cook brisket is tradition.  I can think about many of the Jewish holidays I celebrated with my family and I can remember my grandmother's brisket at our table.  Having those same smells in my house transports me back to my childhood.  The other reason I like brisket and the reason all of you (who are not vegetarian/vegan) should try to make it at home is it's hard to mess up brisket.  It's a tough cut of meat that requires a long cooking time to break down that tough connective tissue and transform it into a melt-in-your-mouth treat.

The Slow Cooker Photo property of BVMRD

My wife and I bought a slow cooker a few years ago and we are always looking for things to cook in it.  A few years ago we also started hosting Passover so we needed to find a brisket recipe.  Thankfully the folks at Epicurious.com had a simple solution for us: Slow Cooker Brisket.  This recipe is super simple and you don't need much prep or cooking time.  Most of the time is hands off while the brisket cooks in the slow cooker. 

Since we've been hosting so many folks for Sukkot (and I took the day off work on Friday to take my daughter to school) it was a perfect storm to make some brisket for Shabbat dinner.  I scooted off to Trader Joe's to buy some of the ingredients but since I've made this a few times, we had most of the stuff already. 

Ingredients for our slow cooker brisket.  Photo property of BVMRD

The first thing you do with this brisket is to brown the sides of the brisket in a hot pan.  Browning does one main thing: it adds flavor!  It turns a "ho hum" brisket into a "OMG that was amazing" brisket.  Yes, it adds one more step and one more dish to clean but it worth it.  The key is to get the pan hot, set the meat down and not to touch it again for about 4-5 minutes.  If you try to move it too early, it will stick and that's not good.

One side of the brisket browned.  Photo property of BVMRD
While the brisket is browning, slice the potatoes into disks and add them to the slow cooker.  They will make a great addition to the final dish...trust me.

Potatoes added to the slow cooker. Photo property of BVMRD
Once the brisket is browned on both sides, add it to the slow cooker.  Onions are then added to the pan you browned the brisket in and cook those until they are soft.  Add some garlic to the onions and saute for a few minutes and add the garlic and onions to the slow cooker on top of the brisket.   Once the pan is empty, you add the beer and the broth to deglaze the pan.  Just like browning, deglazing is all about flavor.  You've spent time browning the meat and when you are done, you'll notice there are all these bits left in the pan.  These bits are called "fond" and by adding them back to a sauce or dish, we add flavor.  Remember, we're going for an "OMG that was amazing" brisket here!

While the onions are cooking, I assembled the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and mixed them up.  You are basically making a BBQ sauce.

BBQ sauce ready to be added to the slow cooker.  Photo property of BVMRD
Once the onions are done, the deglazing liquid is added to the slow cooker, the BBQ sauce is added and you are done.

Everything added to the slow cooker Photo property of BVMRD
You can cook the brisket on high or low settings.  I have done both and they are equally good.  Once the brisket is done cooking you'll notice how some of the sauce has reduced.  You'll know the brisket is done because you will be able to just pull a piece off with you hand.

The finished product in the slow cooker Photo property of BVMRD
Take the brisket out and scoop out the potatoes.  Slice the brisket across the grain of the meat and plate it up.  I made it this weekend with some broccoli and farfalle pasta.  This dish is great for everyone.  Kids will eat it, your friends will think you are a genius and your spouse/partner will not even think twice about doing the dishes for you because you are such a culinary God! 

I hope I inspired you to try this dish.  If you do, let me know how it goes. If you have another favorite brisket recipe, please share!


The finished dish plated up and ready to serve. Photo property of BVMRD

My own plate do delicousness! Photo property of BVMRD

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