I was out the whole day yesterday and when I returned home, I could smell that something good was cooking, the moment I opened the door. My hubby had made a pot of sumptuous stewed beef brisket for dinner! I don’t need to elaborate how delicious this dish is because from the ingredients he put in, you will be able to imagine how flavorful it is. It is rather difficult to photograph stews, especially with dark gravy like this one. I don’t think the picture I have below does justice to the dish but please don’t judge the book by its cover, I promise you will not regret trying this. It definitely taste far better than it looks!
500 gm beef brisket
4 tbs corn or canola oil or rapeseed oil
Juice of ½ lemon strained
4 medium size carrots, cut in chunks
1 large fennel bulb, with greens removed – retain the greens for attractive plating
2 large white onions, peeled and quartered
1 can whole plum tomatos, discard juice and cut tomatoes in chunks
3 tb chopped garlic
2 oz. sweet saki
2 tb red wine vinegar
5 slices of ginger
1 teaspoon, ground nutmeg
20 gm rock sugar
1 tablespoon thick black sauce
350 ml beef broth
2 large potatoes, Russet or Yellow, peeled and cut into 8 chunks each
ground black pepper (to taste)
Trim fat from the brisket. Rinse the meat under a fast flowing tap and pat completely dry with paper towels
Combine two tbs of frying oil, lemon juice, in a small bowl and rub liberally over the entire brisket. Grind black pepper sprinkling over the entire surface.
Heat large frying pan with remaining frying oil over medium high flame until it reaches frying temperature (350F or 180C).
Note: To test oil, drop a single grain of rice into it. If it bobs to the surface and bubbles the oil is ready. Alternatively, place a wooden spoon, handle end, into the oil and watch for bubbles to form at the surface around the handle.)
Place the brisket into the frying pan and cook until golden brown on all surfaces. All that caramelization is loaded with flavor.
Remove brisket from the frying pan and place into the slow cooker.
Return to the frying pan and bring back to heat. Carefully add red wine vinegar and sweet sake, and two tbs of beef broth, to the pan, scraping and stirring the bottom of the pan so as to “deglaze” the pan. Remove from flame and pour the contents of the frying pan over the brisket in the slow cooker.
Add all remaining ingredients except the potato to the slow cooker and set for HIGH heat.
Bring the contents to a visible simmer (This usually takes between 35 – 50 minutes depending on your cooker, so begin checking at 30 minutes.)
Re-set the heat to LOW temperature and allow to cook for three hours. Visit the pot a couple of times to lift the meat with a fork and using a spoon in your other hand, stir and redistribute the vegetables and liquid before setting the meat back on top.
After the contents have cooked for three hours, peel and cut potatoes into eight chunks each. Place into the slow cooker, pushing the chunks down into the liquid and repositioning the brisket back on top.
Allow to cook five more hours. Use a fork to test the potatoes for doneness
Carefully remove the brisket from the cooker, and allow to rest on a cutting board for at least fifteen minutes. (The collagen in the beef will have been rendered almost completely so that the meat should be handled carefully to avoid breakage.)
Using a very sharp butcher knife carefully make thick slices of brisket.
Optional: While the meat is resting, check the liquid in your pot. If you wish to have a thicker gravy, remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and retain in a lidded casserole covered with a kitchen towel. Remove the liquid to the frying pan and bring to a simmer. Stirring frequently reduce the liquid according to your wishes. Alternatively, you can add ½ a tsp of corn flower to a quarter cup of cold water and stir until well blended together into a cloudy liquid. Add this mixture to the frying pan and stir constantly until the juices thicken.
Recombine vegetables and gravy, and place in soup plates.
Carefully lift brisket slices and place on top of the vegetables. Decorate with a sprig fennel greens, and serve with crusty baguette or a rustic loaf.