I’m not sure if it’s the value for money or the wonderful results that are currently making brisket my go-to cut of beef. There’s something about brisket that screams, “Weekend treat!” and I guess it’s the amount of cooking time involved.
I first used brisket in a Tuscan recipe from Jill Norman. The beef was slowly braised for three hours in a combination of red wine, carrots, celery and tomatoes to achieve a rustic and altogether delicious dish. Despite the success of that first attempt, I wasn’t too excited about the recipe itself because of how predictable it was. “Next time,” I thought, “I’ll do something very different.”
The wind began to drive against the windows and the sunny morning disappeared behind a gloomy veil of the North Wests’ finest rain. It was time to bring the beef up to room temperature. My father-in-law is a massive fan of beef with ginger and spring onions and he makes a bee-line for the local Chinese as soon as he arrives from France. It’s the combination of tender beef and serious amounts of ginger that really make it for him. I thought that perhaps brisket would lend itself to these Asian flavours if it was cooked for long enough and given strong ingredients.
Brisket with ginger and spring onions
1-1.5kg rolled beef brisket
12 spring onions (chopped)
2 medium white onions quartered
3 stalks lemon grass (finely chopped)
Copious amounts of fresh root ginger (finely chopped)
2 large cloves garlic (1 chopped, 1 crushed)
1 glass white wine
1 red chilli
I started by rolling the brisket in a mixture of sea salt flakes and cracked black pepper. Once coated, I threw a knob of butter into a 20cm casserole with a little oil and browned the meat on all sides on a high heat. I removed the meat and prepared the vegetables. I got half way through grating the ginger and decided to chop the rest. The rain had stopped and I needed to walk the dog. I added all of the vegetables including the chilli which I left whole. These cooked gently on a low heat until soft, but not brown. I added a little hot water if the mix got too dry.
A good stir and it was time to return the meat to the casserole. At this point, I added the wine and then topped it up with water until the meat was almost covered, but not quite. A hard boil for 2 minutes got things going before I turned the heat down to the lowest setting and put the lid on. It’s important that the meat fits snugly into whatever you cook it in and that the lid is on firmly. You don’t want the liquid to reduce and leave you with tough meat sitting in a salty puddle.
That was it! Done. I just had to find something to do for three hours. I turned the meat over occasionally and I basted it when I got restless, but it really does take care of itself. Today I used a cut weighing 846g so it only needed two hours of cooking to be really tender. I rested it for twenty minutes before carving into thick slices.
Seasonal food is always a treat and this was no exception. I’d already used plenty of spring onions and to serve the beef I boiled some Jersey Royals and quickly fried some spring greens in a little butter. Since the sauce was so punchy, I didn’t need any other strong flavours on the plate. A nice glass of the same white that went into the beef sauce and you’re laughing! I can’t wait to make this for my father-in-law. C’est magnifique!