Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pot Roast Brisket of Beef

Roast dinner - American-style!

Fancy a change from the usual British roast? Why not have a go at this delicious American favourite - Pot Roast, which transforms an economical cut of beef, such as brisket, into a moist and tender dinner, with carrots, shallots and potatoes all in.

Pot Roast Brisket of Beef

If you prefer, you could serve this with roast potatoes instead, or mash, but it's a great one pot meal, and the sides are optional - this would commonly be eaten just with the carrots from the pot roast and potatoes in the US - maybe even mopped up with bread! Served shown with my Southern-style braised green beans with bacon (30 calories per serving), and an American-inspired spinach and mushroom gratin (60 calories per serving). Good served with steamed green vegetables.

Calories per serving, 406 without potatoes, 491 including potatoes as below. Serves six (with two portions of leftover beef and gravy - in other words, one serving of beef is 1/8 of the joint).

(N.B. Calories are slightly over-stated as gravy is sieved mid-point, discarding the onions, celery, garlic and tomato skins/seeds , herbs, peppercorns etc.)
1.2kg rolled brisket of beef (tied) [2,616 (1,962 for 6 portions)]
1/2 tbsp olive oil [68]
350g shallots (about 12), peeled [84]
400g peeled carrots, chopped into 1" chunks (on the diagonal) [104]
2 onions, roughly chopped (200g) [82]
2 celery stalks, chopped (180g) [18]
3 cloves garlic, sliced [18]
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns
250ml red or white wine (not something you wouldn't drink, or use extra stock) [reduced alcohol content through cooking: (48+((215-48)*0.05)=56]
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped (170g, no need to peel or core) [34]
500ml beef stock (I use Knorr Touch of Taste Beef Boullion) [20]
1 tsp dark brown sugar (optional) [16]
750g baby potatoes, scrubbed (optional, you can serve with separate roast or mashed potatoes etc. if you prefer, or omit potatoes and serve with piles of extra vegetables) [510]
Cornflour to thicken, to taste (I used 2 tbsp [72])
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1 / 140C / 275F.  Heat a large, oven-proof, lidded casserole dish (preferably with a non-stick ceramic coating, e.g. Le Creuset style - or use a large non-stick pan, or even wok and transfer to a casserole dish when it goes to the oven), then add the oil and cook the shallots for a few minutes, until browned, then remove and set aside. Do the same with the carrots. You should have oil remaining in the pan (if not, add a little extra, especially if you're not counting calories)

Season the beef, then sear on all sides for several minutes until browned all over, remove and set aside.

Now fry the onions and celery in the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the beef as you cook them for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, thyme, bay and rosemary and continue to cook for another 20-30 seconds until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic (it will taste bitter).

Add the wine and deglaze the pan (use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned juices from the bottom).

Add the beef back to the pan, and add the tomatoes, peppercorns and sufficient stock to surround the meat, but not come more than half-way up it. Bring to a gentle simmer, place the lid on the pan, and put into the middle of the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning the beef occasionally.

N.B. If you want to make good use of your oven, whilst cooking the brisket of beef, you could cook another economical and delicious cut of meat at the same time, and make my American-style slow-cooked pulled pork with a smoky barbecue sauce.

Take the beef out of the gravy, and set aside while you carefully strain the gravy through a seive into another pan or large jug (you may need to get someone else to help you), pushing the solids down to squeeze out as much flavour as possible. Discard the solids, skim off any excess fat from the top of the gravy, reserve a couple of tbsp and return the beef and gravy to the pot and put it back into the oven.

Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes, if using, then add to the pot with the carrots and shallots and cook for a further 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours until everything is tender to your liking.

At this point, you could make a roux with butter and flour to thicken your gravy with, as would be traditional, but I've thickened mine with cornflour to keep down the fat content, and also because it's free from gluten.

Use the reserved gravy, which should be cold by now, to mix with the cornflour (I used 2 tbsp cornflour),
and add it in stages until you're happy with the thickness of your gravy. Once it's thick enough, try a little, and then add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the beef into eight thick slices, and serve everyone a slice (or you could slice thinly if you prefer). If the beef is not moist enough for you (which will depend on the quality of the meat, although brisket can be dry), this is easily rectified by returning the beef to the oven, sliced and covered in gravy for 5 or 10 minutes while you keep the sauce and vegetables warm, and then serving. Enjoy, with or without further side dishes. This also re-heats really nicely the next day, as did the sides we had with it.

Beef Brisket
The same meal re-heated gently the next day. Even more delicious!

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