Some praise for the braise
BRAISED BRISKET AND ONIONS BAKED RICE
I have been spending most of my recent time in the kitchen practicing basic cooking skills, the foundation skills that are the building blocks of all cooking. When thinking about what skills I felt the need to refresh, I came to the conclusion that I haven't done a good meat braise in a long time.
Visiting Lancaster Central Market one day last week, I found myself gazing longingly into several of the meat cases. I've been a customer for a long time, mostly for chicken, turkey and cheese, but I haven't bought meat in a while.
At Stoltzfus Fresh Meats, I found a beautiful piece of brisket I was told came from a herd raised in Elizabethtown. That suits me perfectly, as I have long been an advocate of consuming local products whenever possible. The vendors at Lancaster Central Market give all of us the ability to do that. Yet another reason we love living here.
The weather is perfect for a long, slow braise. So I dug deep into the archives for one of my all-time favorites, one I haven't made at least since I've been married, and maybe 10 years before that. The recipe, in fact, is one of my mother's, one she made for my family whenever she needed the mental therapy of a relaxing day in the kitchen, with the fragrances of beef, onions, wine and ginger filling the house.
On a cold February afternoon with a big football game looming in the evening, it all just came together. As I cooked, the house smelled like my youth. Who wouldn't love that?
Served with roasted butternut squash, this meal is a winner.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons finely ground white pepper
6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1¾ pound center-cut brisket
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup red table wine
1 (10-ounce) can beef consomm'
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and broken
1 tablespoon dried thyme
4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch slices
5 large onions, halved, then sliced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Place salt, pepper, flour and ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Place the brisket in the same bowl and coat all sides with the flour mixture.
Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven to medium-high heat, place floured brisket in the pot and brown well on all sides, including edges. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Add the wine and consomm' to the pot and stir to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic and thyme to the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Return the brisket to the pot.
Place the carrots around the brisket in the braising liquid, cover the meat and carrots with the onions and sprinkle with paprika. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer 3 to 3½ hours, until a large cooking fork can be inserted into the meat. Remove to a warm plate and cover with foil to rest 15 minutes.
While the brisket is resting, add the balsamic vinegar to the pot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer to reduce by one-quarter.
Slice the brisket across the grain and serve with Baked Rice and the pot sauce.
This recipe can also be made with a boneless chuck roast or any other cut that you like to use for pot roast. It can be made ahead and reheated. In fact, it might be even better reheated.
Olive oil spray
1 cup long-grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup each of carrot, celery and onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish lightly with olive oil spray and spread long-grain rice into the prepared dish.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, celery and onion and saut' until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute more.
Increase heat to high, add stock and bay leaves to saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over rice in the baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil.
Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Season with freshly ground black pepper, fluff with a fork and serve.
If you like your rice dry, return to the oven an additional 5 to 10 minutes, to your preference.
You can find a recipe for Baked Rice made with brown rice on my blog, jeffskitchen.net, along with a wonderful recipe for baked rice pudding.n