Thursday, March 26, 2009

Brisket with Thyme and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

When we last left, I had made really good brisket as a test for an event at my church.

Before I started my recipe testing, I had done some reading about brisket cooking methods. One method that seemed to be widely shared was to cook the brisket one day then cool it and stick it in the fridge for a night or two. Then, while it was cold, it can be more easily de-fatted, then sliced and put back in the gravy to be reheated. The theory here is A) roast is better when it sits for a day or two B) it's easier to slice when it is cold and C) in theory you can't over cook it while reheating because the beef is already cooked to well-done.

So, after eating some of the brisket on Monday, tonight I reheated it using the method above.

Here's the roast straight out of the fridge.

Here it is with the fat removed

I took the beef out of the pan, sliced it and then put it back in the pan, spooning most of the onion mixture on top of the beef. It didn't seem like there was quite enough gravy in the pan, so I mixed together 1/3 cup each of beef stock and red wine and then added this to the pan. I put the lid on the dutch oven and then popped it into a 350 degree oven for an hour.

While this was cooking I started on my side dishes.

Here's the ingredients for the Thyme and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

1 pound new potatoes (these are ruby crescent potatoes which are a beautiful shade of pink when they are done)
1-2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls fresh thyme, chopped
4 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

I placed my potatoes in a large sauce pan, covered them with water and brought the pan to a boil. I let the potatoes boil until they were fork tender then drained them. I put the pan back on the stove over medium heat, added the olive oil, then the garlic, thyme and salt and let this cook for about 30 seconds. Then I tossed the potatoes back into the pan and gave them a good smash with my flat-bottom whisk (I don't own a potato masher, multi-taskers only in my kitchen). I added some pepper, gave it a good stir and it was ready to go.

The buerre blanc sauce was so good with the snap peas on Monday that I decided to make it again.

Here the ingredients.

10 cute carrots
1 Tbls white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbls butter
1 Tbls lemon zest
a couple of pinches of kosher salt

I started by steaming my carrots until they were almost cooked. While they were cooking I started the buerre blanc.

Now, people seem to think that buerre blanc is had to make, but really, it's easy, it just needs a little attention. I started my buerre blanc with vinegar (because I want the tang) but any liquid (even water) can be used. And no matter how much sauce you want to make (whether it is two tablespoons of butter or two pounds), you only need to start with about a teaspoon of liquid (I'm using more because of the aforementioned tang).

I started by bringing the vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan.

Then I whisked in my butter one tablespoon at a time (that's important) waiting until each addition melts before adding another.

Once all my butter melted I added my lemon zest and salt to taste. Then I poured this over my steamed carrots.

So now, everything is done and/or warmed. So I plated it up.

So now, which dish will reign supreme?

While the flavor of the brisket improved (and it was easier to slice while cold), both the husband and I thought it was a bit drier rewarmed. The husband said that he actually likde the texture better, but I didn't think that the improved flavor was worth the dryness (because it was really good the first day).

The potatoes were really good, but both the husband and I thought that the flavor of the brisket completely overwhelmed the potatoes. The corn pudding was a better match in both flavor and texture.

The carrots and the snap peas both had the same sauce. The husband and I were split on which was better, he liked the carrots while I liked the snap peas. Since I'm the chef, my vote wins.

So the meals for the Seder meal will be:
Mediterranean Brisket
Savory Corn Bread Pudding
Snap Peas with White Balsamic Vinegar and Lemon Buerre Blanc

I still need to figure out dessert. But that is a project for future Jennifer.

Meanwhile I've got a lemon with no zest, which means I need to use that lemon right away. Cocktail time.

I was thinking lemon drop (because I've got a lemon, duh). But I wanted to give it a little twist, so here is what I came up with.

This Drink Needs a Name (Suggestions Welcome)

juice of one lemon
4 teaspoons sugar (plus additional for rim)
4 ounces gin

I ran the lemon around the rim of the glass and then dipped it in a shallow plate of sugar. Then I put it all the drink ingredients in the shaker with a couple of cubes and gave it a good shake. This makes enough for two drinks (or one really big one!).

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