Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking from the Web – Brisket Bourguignon

I love the fall. Not only does it herald the beginning of playoffs baseball, college and pro football, and cooler weather, the holidays begin in force. First up this year was the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Now, I may not be Jewish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t cook a nice holiday meal.

Many of the recipes I found for Rosh Hashanah included apples and honey, items that are both meant to symbolize a sweet new year. Unfortunately, the only brisket recipe I found for the holiday included dried prunes and apricots. I was looking for something a little more benign, so I decided to use a Chanukah recipe instead.

I realize that I’m a few months early with the Chanukah recipe, so just call it a trial run.

The first step to the recipe was to marinate the brisket.

That’s a whole bottle of burgundy in that bag. The recipe calls for 2 hours to overnight; I was able to come in just shy of two hours.

In the meantime, I got my vegetables ready.

Sure the recipe calls for 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms. I had a few dried ones on hand, so I rehydrated oyster, morel, and shiitake mushrooms.

Freshly rehydrated, the were sliced into sizeable chunks.

After marinating, I pulled the brisket out of the fridge and out of the bag of wine.

I can only imagine what a whole night in wine would do for the color.

Reserving the marinade, I dried off the brisket and then liberally seasoned with salt and pepper.

From there, it was dusted with flour.

Per the recipe, I gave the brisket a good shake to get rid of the excess flour.

Next, I put my trusty Dutch oven on medium-high heat and added two tablespoons of olive oil.

Adding the brisket to the pan, the idea is to get a good bit of browning on each side.

There’s some nice browning on one side.

And a little too much on the other.

With the brisket browned, I was now at a cross roads. I could stick to the intent of the recipe, use olive oil and keep it somewhat kosher, or I could use bacon. Wanting to stick with the spirit of the holiday, I added some more olive oil to the pot and then added the vegetables.

Here, I have 6 carrots that have been cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal, 2 large onions cut into rings, my 8 ounces of rehydrated mushrooms, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, thyme, a bay leaf, and a good helping of fresh black pepper and kosher salt.

At the point, the idea is to cook everything until the onions become “translucent” and the mushrooms soften. Seeing as the mushrooms were rehydrated, there was no waiting for them to soften, but about 15 minutes later, the onions turned that magic color.

Now it was time to add 1/3 cup of cognac to deglaze the pan. It was a little anticlimactic.

Once the cognac had done its job, the rest of the ingredients were added to the pot.

The reserved wine marinade, 2 cups of beef stock, and one tablespoon of tomato paste were all added.

Lastly, the star of the dish, the brisket was added back to the pot. I did my best to nestle it underneath the vegetation. With everything in, I raised the pot to a simmer, and then put it on the lowest setting, slapped on the lid, and began to play the four hour waiting game.

Four hours later, I opened the lid to see how everything had fared.

Yes, there’s smoke obscuring most of the brisket in this picture, but you see how little broth was lost with the top on.

Out of the pot, the brisket was looking a good bit smaller.

After letting it rest for a few minutes, I took a knife to it to see it my efforts had paid off.

It’s not bbq, but this was a delicious piece of beef. The flavor of the wine had done an amazing job in that short two hours.

Served over rice with a spoonful of veggies and braising liquid, this was a fine meal, holiday or no. Maybe next time, I’ll get the gumption to make a brisket with the dried fruit.

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