I’m totally not a type A person, meaning I’m not really a stickler for recipes. I learned how to cook out of necessity (read: hunger and desperation for home cooked meals) when I moved out of my parents house around 7 years ago to pursue my masters degree. There are some really fabulous recipes that I stick to, but other than that I’ve happily gotten used to winging it since cooking is so forgiving. A taste of this, a pinch of that, and you’re good! Baking is another matter all together…but luckily my love for home-baked treats inspires me enough to get all obsessive compulsive about the measurements. :-)
I really love comforting, slow-cooked meals that fill your home with warmth and amazing smells…stews and braises really turn me on! Among my favorite slow-cooked meals are braised short ribs (yum!!!), beef brisket, pulled pork, braised brussel sprouts in cream, and beef stews made with lots of red wine. Today though, it’s all about the brisket. I find that the beef briskets I’ve ordered in restaurants around Manila are either slightly tough, very sweet, or served in very small and expensive portions, given that brisket is one of the cheapest cuts you can buy. So usually, I just make it myself. It turns out differently every time since I throw in whatever I have around, but it’s hard to go wrong when you have the basics: good meat, a tasty simmering liquid (broth or wine or both), spices that you like, and patience since you’ve got to cook this low and slow!
To make this brisket, I defrosted a 1.2 kg hunk of brisket (320 pesos from S&R although it was not as fatty as I would like) and threw it in a deep pan along with the following:
- A can of Swanson’s beef broth (Purists, don’t crucify me, I rarely make my own stock)
- A can of crushed Italian tomatoes
- 2 fresh tomatoes just because I had them lying around
- 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar – most recipes say 1/4th but I find it a little too tangy for my taste
- Around 1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce, I always use Lea and Perrins since local brands are sweet
- Around 1/8 cup of low sodium soy sauce (I used Kikkoman)
- A healthy splash of red wine, always use something you would drink it on its own!
- 1 bulb of garlic, peeled and chopped (yes, 1 bulb, I like garlic, adjust accordingly)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsbp of chili powder
- A whole lot of freshly ground black pepper (I hate pepper that comes in shakers already ground!!! For so little effort you get so much more flavor)
I gave everything a good stir, covered the pan in foil, and stuck it in the oven at 325 degrees for a good 4 hours last night (no lifting the foil to peek!). Soon I had an awesome smelling flat, a little dog hungrily guarding the oven, and of course, some fork-tender brisket:
If you can’t pull it apart with two forks, it’s not done yet! I like to make things like stews or brisket the night before so I can skim off the fat before I reheat since we’re trying to eat reasonably healthy. Also, I find that the flavors really meld together and get more complex the day after. That is, of course, when we can wait.
So when I get home today, I just need to take this out of the refrigerator and pop this back in the oven at 325 degrees for around 45 minutes. Then I slice the brisket, make some gravy, whip up a green salad and some sort of starchy side dish, and dinner is ready!
We’re also looking forward to the leftover brisket – either on sandwiches or on tortillas with some salsa, onions, cheese and sour cream. Mmmmm. :-)
I reheated the brisket in the oven and put half in a serving dish (I saved the rest for pasta or sandwiches this week):
Then I made some easy potato gratin, threw together some corn with butter and salt, and dinner was done (and delicious)!