Bourbon Espresso Braised Brisket with Morello Cherries
When you hear the word Brisket what is the first thing that comes to mind for you? For me, it’s Barbeque most likely because our little upstate NY area has somehow become synonymous with all things BBQ...I wish I could tell you why, but you’d be hard pressed to throw a snowball and not hit one of the many mobile and food truck BBQ’s or find a restaurant that doesn’t feature it prominently on its menu. Don’t get me wrong, I like good barbeque as much as anyone else, but come fall I’m totally barbecued out and I’m starting to seek it out less and less as it becomes more saturated in the community.
We were at the Engelbert's farm store last weekend, and Lisa Engelbert sent me home with a big hunk of gorgeous Brisket to develop a recipe and share with her customers. Brisket isn’t a cut I make often, and to be honest I really needed to sit down with it and get to know it a little better before I actually did anything with it. My respect and reverence for the animal is always at the forefront of every recipe, and when you start eating this almost micro-local way, your respect for the people who grow and produce the food you eat becomes just as important. Let’s just say that I no longer jump into a recipe without careful thought and planning, but this one took a lot longer than usual because I wanted to share something different and that would push my readers to think about cuts of meat they might not normally consider, like Brisket!
Brisket comes from the front of the front of the cow and is a girdle of muscle that provides support to the head and chest and helps aid in locomotion. It’s lean and heavy in connective tissue as you’d expect, which makes it ideal for a braise. What makes brisket a great choice is that you get all the deep and rich beef flavor of a premium cut and get a nice roast you can carve and present dressed down or up for a special occasion. It’s also affordable and can feed a crowd. This is one of the reasons I wanted to take some time and pull together something really worthy of a holiday meal, and I think this recipe has all that going on and more.
Knowing this brisket was going to have a long slow braise, I wanted to find flavors that would stand up to that, and there’s nothing like wine and spirits to do that for you. People shy away from cooking with alcohol not realizing that the alcohol cooks away, leaving you with all the flavors, often intensified. This is the case with bourbon, which leaves you with rich spice and subtle smokiness, but it’s imparitive to use a quality brand. This is no place for bargains. For this recipe I used Jim Beam Double Oak, as well as Kicking Horse Dark Roast Decaf. For the acid/tomato I used my own sauce, but a good organic tomato sauce will work fine.
Bourbon Espresso Braised Brisket with Morello Cherries
by Colleen Cheechalk - Raised Roots
Brisket provided by Engelbert Farms, Nichols, NY
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon ground espresso
1 4-5 pound brisket, trimmed to leave ¼ - ½ inch fat
2 tablespoons ghee
2 celery stalks, large diced
2 large carrots, large diced
1 large onion, large diced
4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup good marinara or sauce
1.5 cups coffee (decaf is fine)
2 cups beef stock or beef bone broth
1.5 cup good bourbon
½ cup dark maple syrup
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Morello Cherry Sauce
1 jar Morello Cherries in light syrup (Aldi and Trader Joes are the best!) drained
To make the rub, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
Rub the mixture all over the brisket and cover and let chill in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.
When ready to cook, let the meat stand at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
Heat the Ghee (or butter) in a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add brisket, fat side down. Cook without moving for 5-7 minutes until browned and fat is rendered. Then turn the brisket over and cook the other side until browned, about 3 more minutes.
Remove the brisket to a plate. Then add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Saute until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and cook until it begins to caramelize with the vegetables. Pour in the coffee, stock, bourbon, light brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for all the caramelized bits.
Add the brisket back to the pan, then cover and braise in the oven until brisket is very tender to the touch but not falling apart, about 3½ to 4½ hours. Baste the brisket every 30 minutes while cooking.
When ready, transfer the brisket to a large plate, fat side up.
Strain braising liquid into a large bowl to remove the vegetables. Return the strained braising liquid to pot, bring to a simmer, add the cherries and cook until the sauce is reduced and thick, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
From this point, you can refrigerate the cooled brisket in the cooled sauce until ready to serve, or let brisket rest for 20 minutes, slice against the grain and serve with sauce.
Some additional things to consider
Morello cherries are sour, which is why I picked them. The tartness brightens this really deep rich dish, think cranberry relish and your Thanksgiving Turkey. If you want to stick with something less tart, plums, figs, apples, or sweet cherries would be great, eve raisins or grapes would be excellent.
Engelbert Farms, LLC is owned by Kevin and Lisa Engelbert and their family, the farm store is located at 182 Sunnyside Road, Nichols, NY 13812 and they are open Friday and Saturday from 10am-3pm. They have several beautiful briskets at the store ready and waiting for you, as well as other cuts of organic meats, their delicious organic cheeses and vegetables. So get down there and tell them that Colleen sent you.
Wishing you all the Merriest Christmas and a Healthy, Happy New Year!