I remember when I first purchased Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: I nestled into my parents’ welcoming La-Z-Boy and proceeded to read the entire tome almost cover to cover, lovingly marking recipes I wanted to try with my trusty Post-It notes. One of those recipes was, of course, the famous beef dish, beef bourguignon: tender chunks of beef simmered slowly in red wine and beef stock and garnished with buttery pearl onions and earthy mushrooms. Julia calls it “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes ever concocted by man.”
A Mexican Classic for a Crowd: Cochinita Pibil January 12, 2012
Pork shoulder. Pork butt. Boston butt. Whatever you call it, this lip-smackingly good cut of meat is one of my all-time favorites. When it’s ground it adds fatty richness to meat sauce and meatballs, and when it’s left whole and roasted low and slow it becomes melt-in-your mouth tender and shreddable—perfect for barbeque pulled pork sandwiches or on warm corn tortillas with a freshly made salsa.
While the American South may have a lockdown on barbequed pork, the good people of Mexico, specifically those folks in the Yucatan Peninsula, have their own unique method for bringing out the best in this humble cut of meat.
Recipe Flash: Fettucine alla Bolognese January 4, 2012
Happy 2012! I decided to start this year right and introduce some new columns to the Kitchen Bitch Blog right away. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’re already familiar with my man-friendly Man Meals column (see, for example, this post) and my ever-popular Feed a Crowd column (check out this post on Texas-style beef brisket, for example).
With life being so crazy, as it always is (I’m busybody, what can I say?), I wanted to establish a few columns in which I can share 1) cooking tips and tricks of the trade; 2) cooking gadgets and gizmos I’ve come to know and love; 3) brands and manufacturers I trust to make foods that taste great; 4) snapshots of my life in food and otherwise; and last, but not least, 4) tried-and-true recipes to which I’ve made little or no changes, because they’re perfect just the way they are.
And that brings us to today’s Recipe Flash column. I’ve actually featured a recipe for sugo alla bolognese before on this blog in the post, Sunday Supper: Not Your Mother’s Meat Sauce. And I do LOVE that recipe. But me being me, I just had to try a new version for the Christmas dinner I offered to host for my mom’s side of the family. After much searching, I decided to go with Anna Nanni’s Ragu alla Bolognese, featured in Saveur magazine. (more…)
Moroccan Dreams, Chicken Tagine May 18, 2011
I’ve been dreaming about going to Morocco for a few years now, but then again, I dream about traveling everywhere. But there’s something about the North African nation of Morocco that keeps it coming back to my daydreams.
Maybe it’s my undying love for Humphrey Bogart and Casablanca.
Or the ancient, glorious maze of streets that comprise Marrakesh and the vast desert beyond it that beckons visitors to hop on a camel and explore.
Or maybe it’s the exotic cuisine that really gets me.
Moroccan food has Arab, Mediterranean, Moorish and Berber influences, but it’s taken on a mind of its own. Spices are used extensively, especially saffron, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and coriander, and olives, lemons, oranges, mint and couscous are all commonplace. I’ve seen images of its markets, littered with giant conical piles of fragrant herbs and spices, nuts and dried fruits. The images alone make my heart (and stomach) yearn for a faraway place I’ve never seen before.
Feed a Crowd: Texas-Style Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket April 1, 2011
As I’ve mentioned before, in what’s most definitely been my most popular post all time, A Sure Crowd Pleaser: Beef Brisket with Homemade BBBQ Sauce, my boyfriend Doug LOVES brisket. If it’s on the menu, 10 to 1 he’s going to be ordering it for dinner.
So when one of Doug’s coworkers took a trip to Costco to purchase a brisket to cook in his new smoker (Adam & Jenni: I’m still waiting on an invite to come see that thing in action! Who doesn’t love smoked meats?) I asked Doug to throw Adam some money to pick us up one, too. When you can feed 8–10 people large quantities of meat for $20, you know you’ve made a good purchase.
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I love barbeque. Americans love barbeque. Pretty much everyone in the world loves barbeque. You can slather barbeque on any number of meats, including pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and that lesser known but no less lovable cut of meat—the beef brisket.
My boyfriend, Doug, doesn’t just like barbeque brisket. He LOVES it. If we go to a restaurant and it’s on the menu, hands down, that’s what he’s going to order. And that brisket sandwich will disappear before you’ve even had a chance to ask for a taste test. So, when my parents asked me to make a meal for 25-30 people at their home in Kentucky, I knew a beef brisket was in order.
Beef brisket comes from the breast or lower chest area of the cow. Because of this (it’s a hardworking muscle), it has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be broken down before the meat will be tender, much like a pork shoulder or pot roast. For instance, in traditional Jewish cooking brisket is often braised in the same manner as a pot roast.
A low and slow stint in the oven breaks down the collagen in the brisket, and the fat cap on top bastes the meat as it melts down during the long cooking time. Five to six hours in the oven means you can put the brisket in and forget about it—or you can be a real go-getter and make your side dishes and dessert while it cooks.
The other great thing about brisket? It’s cheap! An 8-lb slab of brisket will serve 8-12 people and costs approximately $25. That’s only $2.50 a head! If you’re going to feed a crowd, this is the way to do it.
When you slice the brisket and add the barbeque sauce, you’ll understand why the six-hour wait was worth your while. The resulting brisket is melt-in-your-mouth tender, with a great tanginess from the BBQ sauce and a smoky bite from the liquid smoke in the marinade.
I cook my brisket in the oven, but if you have a smoker (I’m so jealous!) or a grill with wood chips, by all means, cook it indirectly on that. If you do, just be sure to lessen the amount of liquid smoke you use in the marinade and barbeque sauce. Try this recipe out for your next cook out or dinner party. I promise it’ll be a hit!
Beef Brisket with Homemade Barbeque Sauce
This recipe, adapted from Cathy G., serves 8-10. Simply double it to serve 20-25. Account for about 1 lb of meat per person. Start this the night before so the meat has time to marinate. I like to make the BBQ sauce the night before as well so the flavors have time to meld. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.
8-10 lb. lean beef brisket
¼-½ c. liquid smoke flavoring, depending on how smoky you like it
2 tablespoons onion salt
2 tablespoons garlic salt
For BBQ Sauce:
¼ c. and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced small
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 c. ketchup
½ c. water
¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. liquid smoke flavoring
1 Tbs. mustard powder
½ Tbs. red pepper flake, if you like some heat.
1 tsp. celery salt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare brisket. Pour liquid smoke over brisket. Rub with onion salt and garlic salt. Roll brisket in foil and refrigerate overnight.
Cook brisket. Preheat oven to 300˚F. Place brisket in a large roasting pan. Cover and bake for 5-6 hours. Remove from oven, cool until easy to handle, and then slice. Put slices back into pan.
Make BBQ sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add onion, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add brown sugar, ketchup, water, celery salt, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, red pepper flake, salt and pepper. Stir together and bring to a simmer. CAN BE MADE ONE DAY AHEAD AND REHEATED BEFORE ADDING TO MEAT.
Pour sauce over and reheat. Pour sauce over meat slices in pan. Cover and bake for 30-60 minutes more until heated through. Serve brisket on hamburger buns or by itself.