SLOW COOKER BRISKET WITH DRIED FRUIT & ROOT VEGETABLES
Recipe from Sober Celebrations
Slow cookers were no doubt designed with briskets and pot roasts in mind as the outcome is always tender and delicious, not to mention stress-free. Why bother keeping watch over a Dutch oven when you can prep this recipe in no time, then sit back and let the wondrous slow cooker do all the work?
A 6-quart cooker is best here, given the amount of vegetables and fruit included; it also provides ample space for the cooking liquid, which will become the flavorful gravy that accompanies your brisket. Here we really have two dishes rolled into one - beef brisket and tzimmes (a vegetable and fruit stew), with all the ingredients enhancing each other, producing a delectable main course that's sure to create raves at the table! Make this a day ahead, refrigerate so the flavors can intensify, and reheat the next day on low in the slow cooker itself while preparing the other parts of your menu.
First-cut brisket, which is leaner, will require less fat-skimming later, but the more marbled second cut is also fine to use if you prefer. To comfortably accommodate all the ingredients and encourage even cooking, cut the brisket in half or purchase two smaller cuts. The potato starch will help to thicken the gravy in lieu of flour, as will the dried fruit as it begins to melt. You can vary the choices and amounts of the fruit and vegetables depending on the preference of your guests, but I particularly like this combination as it creates a varied layer of delectable flavor while suggesting bounty and richness.
• One 6- to 7-pound beef brisket, cut in half
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 tablespoons potato starch
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup apple juice
• 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
• 1½ cups water
• One 16-ounce bag peeled baby carrots
• 4 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
• 1 medium-size celeriac (celery knob), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 cup dried apricots
• 1/2 cup each dried, pitted prunes and dried apple rings
1. Season the brisket pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat until it is almost smoking. Brown the brisket on both sides and transfer to the slow cooker in a single layer. Add the onions to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, over medium-high heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a further minute. Sprinkle the potato starch, paprika, and allspice over the onion mixture and stir well to coat. Pour in the vinegar and apple juice and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Transfer the skillet contents to the slow cooker.
2. Combine the beef broth and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the brisket and onions. Distribute the remaining ingredients in the liquid around the beef. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours until the brisket and vegetables are fork-tender. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
3. Remove the cooked brisket from the refrigerator and skim any excess fat from the surface. While the meat is still cold, slice it thinly across the grain. Return the brisket slices to the gravy with the vegetable/fruit mixture, and reheat all on the low setting of the slow cooker. To serve, arrange the brisket slices on a large, heated platter, and using a slotted spoon, place the vegetables and fruit around. Taste the gravy for seasoning and pour over all.