As the days grow colder, I recall the aromas of slow cooked stew and that hearty feeling one gets from the nourishing goodness of home-cooked food. When I was young, Gran always had a crock pot in the oven slowly cooking the meat to tender, the gravy always needed lots of fresh crusty French bread to soak it all up.
Stewed meat is made from cuts of beef with lots of tough connective tissue, namely brisket, chuck and/or round. When you slow cook it in a liquid, the connective tissue breaks down and becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender. Lots of marbling throughout the meat means huge amounts of flavor, plus it becomes meltingly tender when cooked for hours.
Browning the brisket in a skillet first leads to a delicious payoff in the end. Those browned bits in the pan are packed with rich, caramelized flavor – be sure to scrape them up once you add the beef broth.
Serve it on a Sunday, for a simple holiday meal, or any time you crave truly classic comfort food. The whole family will beg for it again and again.
Here is what you will need:
4 lbs beef brisket
Freshly crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided.
1 small can tomato paste.
1 litre beef broth
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 thyme sprigs
6 rosemary sprigs
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges.
1.5 lbs baby red potatoes, halved if large
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces.
The all important how to:
Season the brisket all over with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium to high heat. Place the meat in the skillet and sear it until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a preheated slow cooker.
Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Add the tomato paste, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened in color. Add the broth and cook, stirring constantly to loosen browned meat bits from the skillet and dissolve the tomato paste. Pour the beef broth mixture over the roast in the slow cooker. Add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and rosemary to the broth mixture.
In a large bowl, place the onion, potatoes, carrots, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and garlic powder toss together. Pile the tossed vegetables on top of and around the brisket in the slow cooker.
Cover and bring to boil, then reduce to the medium setting and cook until tender, 8 hours. Serve the roast with the vegetables and a drizzle of gravy from the slow cooker.
(Browning the brisket in a skillet first leads to a delicious payoff in the end. Those browned bits in the pan are packed with rich, caramelized flavor – be sure to scrape them up once you add the beef broth. Bring to a boil, mix all that goodness together then pour over the brisket for more flavour.)
Ian Leatt is a trained chef from across the pond.
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