Slow Cooker Beef Brisket: Simple and Straightforward

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket: Simple and Straightforward

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Everyone needs a special roast recipe. It could be your favorite pot roast, rib roast or tenderloin, but I think every home cook needs a recipe where a massive piece of meat is ceremoniously pulled out of the oven and placed onto a special platter, giving you a reason to carve and serve with flair!

This is why I am sharing my tried and true Slow Cooker Beef Brisket recipe. Just imagine a plate of tender, juicy, savory slices of beef, paired with sweet onions, carrots and a delicious gravy, and you’ll know why this is one of my best and easiest recipes.

Unlike other recipes that call for barbecue or tomato sauce, my recipe is simpler and straightforward, allowing the beef’s natural flavors to shine. I use a flat cut brisket, between three to four pounds, with a nice one-inch layer of fat. A brisket of this size will serve a party easily, and is budget friendly too! If you have leftovers, sliced brisket makes for delicious sandwiches and most people think it tastes better overnight.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can prepare this in a conventional oven, going low and slow (just under 300 F). I would encourage you, however, to consider purchasing a slow cooker. The convenience factor along with the ease of cooking is really irresistible (and yes, we are having a sale on a very special slow cooker at HSN!) And, yes, before I forget, I always use a slow cooker liner. It makes clean-up so easy.

Once the brisket finishes cooking, remove it from the slow cooker and allow it to rest for a few minutes on a cutting board. Giving the meat a rest will ensure easy carving, while allowing the brisket to retain moisture and flavor. Using a sharp knife, cut against the grain (the opposite direction of the meat fibers) creating long, thin slices of delicious, tender meat. Spoon the gravy on top and serve with onions and carrots. Enjoy!

With a slow cooker, this recipe is simple, easy and delicious!

With a slow cooker, this recipe is simple, easy and delicious!

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
Serves 4

Ingredients:

3-4 lbs. beef brisket, flat cut
2 large yellow onions, julienned
1 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
Ground cumin
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Rinse the brisket with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the meat generously on both sides, using the salt, pepper and cumin.
  2. Fill the bottom of the slow cooker with the onions, carrots and garlic. Pour the melted butter and chicken stock over the vegetables, and with tongs, mix well, coating the vegetables.
  3. Place the brisket on top of the vegetables, fat side facing up. Pour the balsamic vinegar evenly over the brisket, coating well.
  4. Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on HIGH for six hours.
  5. When the cooking has finished, remove the brisket and allow to rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board.
  6. Stir the chopped parsley into the cooked vegetables. Taste the gravy. If desired, add more chicken stock and adjust seasonings.
  7. Slice the brisket, cutting against the grain. Remove any fat. Ladle the gravy over the meat and serve with the cooked vegetables.
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Winter Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Winter Vegetable Minestrone Soup

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Winter Vegetable Minestrone

When I see bundles of rainbow chard, full heads of green escarole or bushels of curly savoy cabbages, I know it’s time for a savory winter vegetable soup. Warm, hearty and satisfying, winter vegetable soups are great meals that are simple to make and even better the next day.

Although chard, escarole and cabbage are among my favorite ingredients, shaved Brussels sprouts or dark leaves of kale often work as substitutes. I also like to swap dark red onions for sweet yellow ones, as I find they have a heartier flavor.  Sometimes, I’ll even rinse creamy white cannelli beans for additional protein, and other days, I prefer the comforts of chewy ditalini pasta tubes to bite on.

That’s the brilliance of a good soup base — if you have a good recipe, you can interchange the ingredients based on whatever you can find.  Although my soup creations vary, I think the following guidelines yield great results:

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A bundle of rainbow chard

Patience — When I make soup, I give myself plenty of time to sweat the vegetables. Sweating vegetables means you cook them without allowing them to caramelize.  When vegetables caramelize, they release their sugars and turn brown, which often leads to a bitter taste.  By sweating the vegetables, they retain their texture, shape and moisture, without sacrificing taste.  To sweat vegetables, simply lower the heat, use a good oil, stir the vegetables often and be very patient!

Leafy Greens — If you’re making soup, one or more of the following leafy greens are needed: escarole, parsley, kale, cabbage or chard. When it comes to chard, take each leaf and lay it flat on a cutting board.  Using a sharp knife, make two long cuts, one on each side of the stem.  Once the stem is removed, you can chop the stem and add it to the soup.  Chard stems are colorful and flavorful, with a texture similar to celery.  Save the leaves for the final cooking phase of the soup.

Cheese Rind — When making a soup with a tomato base, add a piece of cheese rind like  Parmigiano-Reggiano, for a nutty and rich layer of flavor.  Most grocers and cheese markets will sell you just the rind if you ask.  If you happen to buy fresh cheese regularly, save and freeze the rinds for such an occasion.

Finish — All soups need a garnish: a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of herbs, a dollop of cream.  For minestrone, I take the extra step to make a pistou.  Pistou is a simple sauce made from basil leaves, garlic and olive oil.  Very similar to pesto, but there is no cheese or nuts.  Just a few seconds in a mini-chopper and you have the secret to a truly savory and satisfying soup.  You can also refrigerate or freeze pistou for future use.

Winter Vegetable Minestrone Soup
Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

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Vegetable Soup with Pistou

1/2 lbs. pancetta or bacon, medium dice
2 red onions, medium dice
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems removed and chopped
1/2 head escarole, leaves only, chopped
1 piece Parmigiano Reggiano rind
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups ditalini noodles (mini-tubes)
Water for the soup
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Pistou:
3 cloves fresh garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

  1. Heat a large dutch oven with olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the pancetta, onions, celery and carrots.  Stir frequently, allowing the vegetables to sweat, but not brown, for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped chard stems.  Allow stems and vegetables to sweat for an additional 20 minutes.  Lower heat if necessary, to prevent from browning.
  3. Add the potatoes and garlic to the pot and combine well.  Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt.  Move all the vegetables to one side of the pot and add the tomato paste. Allow paste to cook for a minute or two, then fully incorporate into vegetables.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes with all their juice.  Add enough water to cover vegetables and create the soup (water line should be about two inches above vegetables).  Stir and bring to boil.  Once boiling, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. In a separate pot, boil the noodles in salted water.  Strain and drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Prepare the pistou.  Using a food processor or mini-chopper, combine the garlic, basil and olive oil with a generous pinch of salt.  Add more olive oil if needed.  The pistou should be a smooth and thick sauce, not chunky or dry.  Set aside.
  7. When cooking time has passed, taste the soup.  Adjust flavors with salt and pepper.  Continue simmering, if needed, until vegetables are tender.
  8. To serve, ladle bowls of soup then add a spoonful of pasta noodles.  Drizzle with pistou.
WOBtoberfest Beer & Brats

WOBtoberfest Beer & Brats

On the set of Daytime with host Cyndi Edwards

I just wrapped another great cooking segment for Daytime TV — this time, as a representative of World of Beer’s WOBtoberfest.  World of Beer is one of the coolest bars featuring craft beers (nearly 500 beers available) and to celebrate seasonal beers, October is designated WOBtoberfest.

I created a recipe using bratwurst and German Marzen beer; which I absolutely love to cook with.  Oktoberfest beers are typically light in body, amber in color and have an infusion of dried herbs and spices.  I used Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Whether you’re at the grill or just want to make this on a stove top, I’ve gotta say, beer soaked brats with onions pair incredibly well with good beer.  So grab some brats and get your onions ready — the flavors of Fall are to be celebrated!

World of Beer WOBtoberfest Beer Brats
Recipe by Chris Kohatsu

Ingredients
8 bratwurst links
4 bottles of German Marzen beer
4 large yellow onions, sliced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Stone ground mustard, for serving

Directions

  1. Using a toothpick or small knife, poke a few holes into each sausage. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Melt the butter then add the onions, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme and coriander. Coat the onions in the butter, but do not allow them to brown.
  2. Place the sausages in the pot with the onions, and add all of the beer along with the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and allow to simmer at least 30 minutes.  The brats will plump and expand significantly.
  3. Heat a grill or sauté pan. Remove the sausages from the beer, then grill or pan fry. Raise the heat on the onions and boil off the beer.  For faster results, pan fry the onions until dark brown.
  4. Serve sausages and onions together with dollop of mustard.
Spinach Macaroni and Cheese – So Good!

Spinach Macaroni and Cheese – So Good!

“Wow, this looks yummy!”

Spinach Mac and Cheese: Thanks Everyday Food!

Tyler and I are thumbing through the April edition of Everyday Food  Magazine, packed with all kinds of fantastic, easy and quick recipes.  He stops on the Spinach Macaroni and Cheese recipe and asks if I’ll put it together for him. Of course I would! 

Regardless of how advanced your palate is, if you grew up in America, you understand our love affair with macaroni and cheese.  We start with the blue box, the funny shaped elbow noodles cooked to a rubbery consistency then mixed with a gritty orange powder (and we loved it!)  Most of us, however, graduate from that, moving towards baked casserole versions topped with crisp bread crumbs and made with real cheese.

My preference is the stove top version, one that starts with a roux and ends with a fondue-like cheese sauce.  I love using a blend of sharp English cheddar as well as Gruyere cheeses, as they melt nicely and compliment the pasta with a richness that only real cheese can provide.  Grate your cheese at home, as the pre-grated cheeses do not melt as nicely.

Fresh spinach adds great flavor to macaroni and cheese

In terms of pasta, most people use traditional elbow macaroni, but I like penne rigate, cooked al dente, so I have plenty to bite into.

Finally, my adult tastebuds long for an additional layer in macaroni and cheese — a layer of fresh vegetables.  I have used spinach, tomatoes, butternut squash and even chile peppers with plenty of success.  Onions are a must, as the sweetness they bring enhances the roux.  I recommend using yellow onions.

Since the best recipes always seem to encourage your own personal twist, I suggest you try the Everyday version then give my rendition a go or twist it your own way.  Tyler used corkscrew pasta and garlic in his, and I used a mixture of cheeses and a pinch of nutmeg.  Eat up and enjoy!

Spinach Macaroni and Cheese (my way)

1 pound penne rigate pasta (cooked al dente in salted water)
4 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (I use 2% but Tyler recommends Whole Milk)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups grated Gruyere
1 1/4 cups grated English Cheddar
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large heavy pot or dutch-oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and allow to sweat gently, without browning.  Stir often with a wooden spoon, about 3-5 minutes, until onions are tender and clear.

Coat the onions with the flour and stir.  Using a whisk, slowly add the milk, just a few tablespoons at a time.  Continue adding and whisking until all the milk is used and a nice thick roux has formed.  Switch back to the wooden spoon, as the roux should cover the back of the spoon nicely.  Stir in the cheeses until melted, and add the nutmeg, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Add the pasta and spinach until well combined.  Serve immediately.  Then tweet a pic to me and let me know how you fared!

Anything for Tyler!