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.
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic: C’est Tout!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic: C’est Tout!

“Trapped! Yes sir, trapped! Into frittering his life away being nurse-maid to a lot of garlic eaters!” – Mr. Potter

I smirk whenever I hear Mr. Potter say this during It’s a Wonderful Life.  Not only because it was Frank Capra’s way of thumbing his nose at bigotry, but because it shows how much American tastebuds have changed in just a short amount of time.  The movie was created in 1946, a time when garlic was consumed mostly in Europe, Asia and Africa.  It’s hard to think what American dishes tasted like without garlic (in fact, I don’t want to think about it!)

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

A lot of people give credit to Italian cuisine for introducing garlic to the American diet.  While I tend to agree, I think credit also needs to be shared with French cooking, particularly by way of Chefs Julia Child and James Beard.  Both Julia and James embraced French cuisine and made it easy for Americans to relate to — simply by making classic recipes new, exciting and fun.

Child and Beard made Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic into a trendy dish during the 1960’s and 70’s.  The idea of peeling so many cloves of garlic challenged and excited the hands of home cooks, but even more so, was the idea that this strange, bitter, odor filled bulb would transform itself into culinary liquid gold.  “A recipe I taught in my classes for many years,” Beard said, “and one that never failed to astonish the students because the garlic cloves become so mild and buttery when they’re cooked through!”

Peeling garlic, two bulbs down, two more to go!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic is a classic French dish that is served in many brasseries and countryside kitchens.  What I love about this dish is the simple, warm presentation of chicken in a rich, savory sauce — only to be met by the sensation of soft creamy garlic that will melt on your tongue and spread easily on your chicken or even bread.  I recommend serving this with a freshly baked baguette.  You won’t need any butter, as the garlic and sauce are rich on their own.  And yes, peel the 40 cloves of garlic yourself.  It’s easier than you think.  C’est tout!

P.S. I leave this week for Paris.  Time for some relaxation and inspiration.  I’ll write when I return. Au revoir!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Serves 2 people

Simmering away!

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 legs of chicken, skin-on, bone-in (drumstick and thigh separated)
20 cloves of garlic (about 2 bulbs) peeled
      *use 40 cloves if using a whole chicken
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups cognac
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Heat a heavy stockpot or dutch oven with the olive oil over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the chicken generously.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken to the pot and cook until golden brown on all sides.  Use tongs to turn the chicken easily.  When chicken is toasted (about 10 minutes) remove from stockpot and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pot along with all the garlic and lower the heat.  Stir quickly until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute.  Add the chicken stock along with 1 cup of the cognac and all the thyme.  Stir with a wooden spoon to pick up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot.  Return the chicken and all the juices to the pot.
  3. Once the liquid begins to simmer, bring the heat to low then cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  After cooking, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  4. Turn the heat up to medium high.  In a small bowl, mix the flour and one cup of the hot broth to make a slurry.  With a whisk, slowly whisk the slurry into the stockpot.  Add the remaining cognac to the broth along with the cream.  Stir and adjust seasonings.  Allow the mixture to boil, reduce and thicken, about 6 minutes.  During the last minute, add the remaining tablespoon of butter.
  5. Serve the chicken with the gravy and garlic cloves, along with fresh baguette.  When dining on this, you are encouraged to smear the soft garlic onto the chicken or onto your bread.  It’s liquid gold, trust me.  Bon appetit!
Sunday Slow Cooked Short Ribs

Sunday Slow Cooked Short Ribs

If Monday’s are supposed to be meatless and Friday’s are for fish, then I say Sunday’s are for slow-cooked dinners.  Break out your crock-pots, take out a tajine or simply stand over your stovetop and let’s make Sunday supper something we can discuss and share for the rest of the week.  Why not?

My short ribs, served with mashed potatoes

One of my favorite items to slow cook is short ribs.  These wonderful cuts of meat are so tender and flavorful, I always make extra and use the leftovers in a rich meat ragu or hearty sandwich. I’m not sure if they are prepared other ways besides braised (perhaps the exception is grilled for Korean BBQ) but essentially, you prep short ribs for the oven and then walk away. They braise for three hours while filling your home with the most wonderful aromas.

Slow cooking is relatively easy and most kitchen cooks appreciate the simplicity of recipes.  What is difficult is managing your patience.  The key to a perfectly made slow cooked meal is in the planning, so manage your time wisely!

The Balthazar Restaurant

If you happen to be in Manhattan and can grab a table at the Balthazar bistro, treat yourself to the short ribs –they are so good!  For the rest of us, simply follow the recipe I’ve posted below.

I use Hanson Vineyards Pinot Noir, as it has hints of cherry and black pepper which adds a special earthiness to the sauce.  Short ribs, in my opinion, should be served with creamy mashed potatoes, however, this recipe includes a very savory gravy so it’s also great with any type of pasta.

The short ribs will linger for a while on your tongue, leaving a fine velvety finish.  If you’re looking for a way to romance or impress someone, this is one recipe to try!

Short Ribs (from the Balthazar cookbook)

  • 6 pounds short ribs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup ruby port wine
  • 4 cups full-bodied red wine (I used Hanson Vineyards)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 sprigs parsley
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 4 cups veal stock
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Tie each short rib with kitchen string, and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and brown short ribs on each side. Remove short ribs and cook carrots, celery, onions, and shallots until onions and shallots turn golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour, and cook 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Return short ribs to the pot and deglaze with port and red wines. Cook until wine is reduced by 2/3. To make the bouquet garni, bunch rosemary, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together, then tie the bundle with kitchen string. Add bouquet garni, garlic, and stock to pot. Bring to a boil and cover. Transfer to oven and cook until meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours.
  3. Transfer short ribs to large platter. Strain sauce through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a medium-size saucepan. Reduce sauce over medium heat until it thickens to a gravy-like consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste, spoon sauce over short ribs and serve.
Slow Cooking: Coq Au Vin

Slow Cooking: Coq Au Vin

On Christmas Day, my friend Jim served up the most scrumptious Coq Au Vin.  Tender chicken breast with soft vegetables in a delicious wine based broth – it was wonderful.  In fact, it was so good, it inspired me to give it a try.

Jim used a recipe by the wonderfully talented Fannie Farmer.  After doing some research, I decided to try a recipe from The Balthazar Cookbook.  I’ve long admired this French bistro, so why not?  I pulled the book down from the shelf and studied the recipe — something I’m glad I took the time to do.

Coq Au Vin is not by any means a quick dinner.  It requires two days of marinating and hours of slow cooking.  Since slow cooking has been gaining momentum lately, I decided I would look into it.  Slow cooking is the antithesis of fast food.  Basically, as Michael Pollan put it, slow food enthusiasts “eat real food.”

Now, there are a few peculiarities with slow cooking I found along the way.  In order to truly make a slow food meal, I had to ensure my ingredients were “slow grown” as well.  Meaning, I had to go to the farmer’s market, buy as much locally grown produce as possible, and also, try to get a local chicken.  I found myself running between the downtown farmer’s market, the Mennonite market and the Fresh Market attempting to make the best choices.  As I used a car, I’m not convinced this was wise.  The wine too, should have been locally grown, but seeing as there are no reputable vineyards in the area, I opted for a French import.

(See pictures and step by step instructions here).

The first step in making a Coq Au Vin is marinating the meat.  Although the recipe said to put the chicken in a bowl and refrigerate, I found that I just didn’t have the space.  So I used a plastic container.  Yes, I’m aware of the environmental impacts of plastic, but trust me, I reuse this container and didn’t dispose of it.

The chicken soaks in a medium to full bodied red wine, like cabernet sauvignon.  In addition, largely diced onions, carrots, celery and a bouquet of parsley, thyme and peppercorns join the party.  It is recommended that the chicken marinate between one and two days prior to cooking (see, this really is slow cooking).

Once the chicken has marinated, you can finally start cooking.  I’ll admit, I had a hard time with this.  Typically, I like to be a fast cook.  From chopping to stirring to plating, I like to work fast.  I kept reminding myself that this was slow cooking.  So. . . slow down, lower the heat, take your time.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

The first step is to brown the chicken on all sides.  On low heat, this is about 8 to 10 minutes per side, and I completed this in two batches.  Then, you brown the vegetables.  Once the vegetables have browned, add tomato paste and flour and continue cooking.  After that, it’s time to add the marinating liquid.  Once this is brought to a boil, it needs to be reduced.  It takes at least 30 minutes to reduce properly.

The wine reduction takes on a beautiful texture and shimmer, and the smell is incredible.  With glee, I returned the chicken to the pot and added three cups of veal stock.  Once again, it was cook and wait.  After simmering on low heat for an hour, the Coq Au Vin is almost complete.  Almost.

In a separate pan, I fried up thick slices of bacon with pearl onions and chopped mushrooms.  The chicken mixture was strained and the liquid reserved.  The vegetables, which will be mushy at this point, are discarded and the liquid gets a second reduction.  Finally, after this reduction, the chicken, mushrooms, onions and bacon are combined and the dish is complete.  Coq Au Vin on the table.

I love all types of cooking and especially love international cuisines.  This recipe, however, is painstakingly disturbing.  The end results are phenomenal. . . but it’s just one meal.  Tomorrow, there will need to be another.  Was it really worth 36 hours of preparation?  I think it will take days for me to fully answer that question.