Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Beef Brisket with Pomegranate Sauce
I'm not a vegetarian. Duh, there's a big hunk of meat pictured above. But I don't cook meat all that often, especially large cuts. I took a quick look at my blog stats and only 5% of my posts contain beef or pork and another 5% are devoted to chicken. The stats are also pretty low for seafood.
I think a New Year's resolution is going to be devoting a little more time to protein based posts. I normally don't buy into the whole New Year's resolution thing, but I really do have a lot things I want to accomplish in 2012 and maybe if I put some of these goals in black and white, I will be less prone to procrastination. Okay, probably easier said than done. Who are we kidding that I can change a lifetime of procrastination with the mere statement of a resolution. But I can dream, right?
The weekend before Christmas Hubby and I had 2 couples over to enjoy a meal and help us decorate our Christmas tree. We had a great time and ended up with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
But I have to be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with entertaining. Which, in part, ties back to my procrastination tendencies. I love having people over. I love cooking and baking. I love putting all the little touches on everything from the food to lighting strategically placed candles and tea lights and picking out place mats. But I tend to completely stress myself out during the process. Especially the closer the clock gets to my guests arrival time. I try, try, try to plan ahead (as much as my procrastinating self will let me) and make lists and start preparing really early in the morning. Inevitably I always feel rushed in the final hour, and have moments of panic when I think, it won't all get done. No matter if I start at the crack of dawn, or give myself a few extra hours of sleep, I always end up in the same rushed state...every time. And every time, some how, some way, it does all get done.
One would think this beef brisket cooked in a crock pot would be the perfect dish to ease my stress. That might be the case if I started cooking it the day prior to the event. Instead, I went shopping for a 5 pound slab of brisket the morning of. Store number 1 had a brisket...one. It was 13 pounds (and they would not sell it in smaller portions). No good. We called ahead to store number 2 (while standing in the aisle of store number 1) and were told, yes of course, we can order you a 5 pound brisket and it will be here by Tuesday! Um, thanks, but no. We just headed to store number 3 with a prayer and a list of other items we needed to pick up. The entertaining God's were with us because Costco came through and sold brisket in 5 pound increments! Score!
This recipe really is easy. I would recommend an anti-procrastination approach and cooking it overnight the night before you want to serve it. Then you can pull out the meat and refrigerate it. What is so great about refrigerating it is you can slice the chilled meat into nice neat slices (instead of the brisket falling apart into shreds of beef), a tip I picked up from In Erika's Kitchen where I found this tasty recipe. Then you can warm the meat up back in the crock pot a couple of hours before you serve your dinner.
The pomegranate sauce makes this brisket really special. It is a rich, onion-y, slightly sweet sauce with a wonderful depth of flavor from the pomegranate juice and dried cranberries. It's pretty darn delicious. It looks like a thick brown gravy, but the cool part is it is not a traditional gravy requiring butter and flour to thicken it. You simply puree the juice and cooked down onions and dried cranberries and reduce it in a saucepan to the desired flavor and thickness.
We served the beef brisket with roasted sweet potatoes with red onions and a wonderful salad our friend Sharon brought with granny smith apples, dried cranberries, green onions, sunflower seeds and feta cheese tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. A recipe I've already tucked away for future use.
Beef brisket with pomegranate sauce would be great dish to make for the final night of Hanukkah. Happy 8th night of Hanukkah! It would also be nice for a New Year's Eve meal. Or you could make this for New Year's Day football watching or Super Bowl and serve the meat shredded with the sauce on King's Hawaiian Rolls for a brisket slider.
And here's to anti-procrastination in 2012!
Beef Brisket with Pomegranate Sauce
from In Erika's Kitchen
1 quart pure pomegranate juice
1 5 pound flat cut brisket, cut in half (to fit in crock pot)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 red onions chopped
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
Bring pomegranate to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook until reduced by about 1/3.
Meanwhile, begin preparing brisket. If you wish trim off some of the fat, now would be time. Be sure to leave some of the fat on as this gives the brisket flavor and helps to keep it moist. Sprinkle salt on both sides of brisket and brown in a hot skillet on both sides until seared. Transfer the brisket to your slow cooker (fat side up). Add oil and onions to the same skillet and cook about 5 minutes until the onions started to brown a bit, about 5 minutes. Place onions in the slow cooker on top of the brisket.
Add the beef bouillon, tomato paste, cumin, brown sugar and cherries to the reduced pomegranate sauce and stir. Pour sauce mixture over the onions and brisket. Turn your slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours until brisket is tender.
Remove meat and set aside on a plate or cutting board. Transfer liquid and onions to medium sauce pan and puree using an immersion blender (or transfer to a standard blender) until smooth. Cook until sauce reduces by about 1/4 to further intensify the flavors. Check the season and add salt if needed.
Slice or shred brisket and pour sauce over the top. Note to get nice clean slices of brisket you can refrigerate the meat and then slice and reheat with sauce in the slow cooker.