Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brisket Beyond Belief

Good evening everyone! One of my favorite things to do on a day off is get ambitious. I like tackling large recipes and side dishes when I have a solid afternoon to spend in the kitchen. Another favorite of mine is cooking brisket - especially when the calendar flips to fall and I can start using the cooler weather as inspiration. Last fall, I made a delicious cran-apple brisket that had me craving something similar this year. After searching through cookbooks, magazines and websites, I couldn't come up with a fall inspired brisket recipe that I wanted to try - so I opted for the next best thing - I made one myself! My own version of a cranberry brisket was not too hard to draw up - and with the addition of a mashed sweet potato recipe I found in our Cook's Country cookbook - I knew I had a meal on my hands!

The Recipe: Cranberry Brisket
Original Recipe By: Out Of The Culinary

What You'll Need

2-4 Pound Brisket
1/4 Cup Blackening (Or Cajun) Seasoning
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 Can Cranberry Sauce (Whole Berry)
1/2 Cup Dark Rum (Or Brandy)

Ideally, you would use brisket for this recipe. However, rather inexplicably, our local Hy-Vee had absolutely no brisket in stock this week. As such we had to find an alternative on the fly - and we chose a thick 2.5 pound bottom round roast. To compensate for lost quality, we opted to buy the premium Angus beef roast over the standard beef.

Begin by combining the blackening seasoning and dark brown sugar in a small bowl. Blackening season is a mix of paprika, garlic powder, onion flakes, cayenne pepper, black pepper, thyme or oregano. Some mixtures include salt - some do not. There are slight variations of the mixture depending on brand, but all that really matters is that it has some form of 'warm' base. The naming of the powder seems to be regional. We couldn't find any blackening powder at any of our local stores - but Cajun seasoning was everywhere.

Carefully dry off the brisket with a paper towel - make sure there is no surface moisture on any side of the meat. Next, rub the seasoning on to all sides of the meat, making sure everything is well covered and the rub is worked into all the crevices.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees and prepare a large roasting pan for the brisket. Place the seasoned brisket in the pan and place that pan in the oven for 20 minutes without a cover. This 20 minute high heat cook does two things. First, it will caramelize the dark brown sugar. 20 minutes of high heat cooking will create a great crust on the outer layer of the brisket. To avoid having a 'too sweet' finish, we incorporate the blackening seasoning to balance out the brown sugar. Secondly, this crust creates a barrier on the outer edges of the meat that traps in the juices while the brisket cooks later on.

While the brisket is cooking, you can begin preparing the sauce. Add the can of cranberry sauce to a small saucepan and begin heating over medium high heat. As the sauce begins to melt, slowly add the rum (or brandy) to the saucepan and stir slowly until incorporated. All the mixture to simmer on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.

This photo struck me as funny... not sure why

Once the 20 minutes have passed, you can remove the brisket from the oven and add the cranberry sauce to the roasting pan. Pour the mixture all over the brisket, and cover the roasting pan. You can use aluminum foil in addition to your roasting pan's lid if you feel the seal will not be sufficient.

Beautifully caramelized after 20 minutes

Reduce the oven's heat to 300 degrees and return the roasting pan to the oven. As we've discussed in past brisket recipes, the best way to cook  roast is low and slow. This breaks down the fatty tissues in the meat, creating an incredibly soft and succulent finished product without the loss of much juice. Allow the brisket to cook at 300 degrees for 3 hours.

After the 3 hours have passed, carefully remove the brisket from the roasting tray and allow to rest on a cutting board for about 20 minutes. You can transfer the juices from the roasting pan to a sauce pan and heat those contents over medium low heat to create a sauce if you wish. Slice the roast into 1/2 inch thick slices and serve with the leftover sauce. Enjoy!

Since I had a whole day to cook, I thought I'd try my hand at a side dish as well!

The Recipe: Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Orignal Recipe Found In: Cook's Country

What You'll Need:

2 Large (or 3 Medium) Sweet Potatoes (Peeled and diced into roughly 1/4 inch slices)
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Sugar

Combine 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, butter sugar and sweet potatoes in a large pan. Cook this mixture in a covered pan over low heat until the potatoes are tender and fall apart when prodded with a fork. This should take about 35 to 40 minutes.

Off of the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of heavy cream. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher and serve!

The Results:

First, let's start with the brisket. Delicious and savory! My own recipe turned out to be a successful venture. The blackening seasoning and dark brown sugar mixture worked perfectly - the outer crust was crispy, caramelized and delicious. The cajun seasoning balanced out the sweetness of the cranberry sauce and brown sugar. When it comes to cooking - I don't know if you can top slow roasted beef.

The sweet potatoes were delicious as well. Soft, slightly creamy and full of flavor. Lightly whipped and fluffy - these sweet potatoes were one of the top side dishes to grace the blog to date! They are such an easy side dish to add to any meal - simply pop them in the pot and let the heat do all the work! It doesn't get any easier than that!

That's all we have for you this evening. Maggie takes to the kitchen tomorrow night with a dish that she's very eager to try. This recipe is something totally outside her 'usual' recipe zone! Stop back tomorrow night to see what she has cooking. Until then,


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