Just last week I bought a slow cooker – my first. They’ve been out of fashion for quite a while now, I can remember a brown ceramic pot bubbling away on my nan’s counter, issuing clouds of savoury broth. Not sure I ever ate anything cooked in it though… I saw one in Tesco for £12 and impulse bought. But then… what to do with it? Luckily this month’s delicious magazine have a feature on that very subject, so they will be coming up shortly. But I was surprised by the lack of dedicated slow cooker recipes on the net. Many talk about slow cooking as a principle, but few about actually using a slow cooker. Being a cheap-ass implement it didn’t come with any cooking tips at all, so it’s invention all the way!
Thanks to the excellent Essex Food Fair at the weekend, a beautiful piece of brisket came my way. I chatted to lovely young gent who was passionate about his cattle, and how they only ate food grown on the farm. I tasted a little piece of silverside he’d roasted, and I commented how I’d got a tasty bit of fat on mine that was all creamy and peppery. We instantly shared a grin about being “those people that love fat on meat” I pointed out his brisket. After that, I was sold.
I ended up throwing very basic things into the pot – it was my first slow cook after all – and I was very pleased with the results. It was tender and “strandy”, with a sweet and luscious liquor that made an excellent gravy. Served alongside roast potatoes (made with yesterday’s leftover confit fat!) and steamed cauliflower, it was a real rib-sticker.
Braised beef brisket:
2 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pint beef stock
Glass of red wine
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
- Drizzle a little olive oil into a hot pan and sear the brisket on all sides.
- Put the beef, onions, garlic, bay, thyme, stock and wine in the slow cooker. Top up with boiling water if necessary to bring the liquids up to 2/3 up the joint.
- Leave to slow cook for 7 hours. When a fork can slide easily into the middle, it’s ready.
- Remove the beef to one side to rest while you make the gravy.
- The liquid will still be quite runny so it requires thickening. I used a beurre manié by mixing the flour and butter together and whisking into the winey stock.
- Hack off big chunks of beef and drizzle over your gravy.