Oktoberfest Brisket

Cooking makes me feel in control. After a long, hectic day at the office or a busy Sunday running weekend errands, there’s no better way to unwind (in my opinion) than losing oneself in a favorite recipe. The process is rewarding from start to finish, as ingredients are gathered, prepared, and melded together into an edible masterpiece. Results are almost immediate, as each step in a recipe can be considered its own little “to-do”; mentally checking off each directive, and moving on to the next can be considered an accomplishment. I enjoy a challenge in the kitchen, and recipes that require precision and attention to detail seem to be the ones I’m most attracted to.

Though I do appreciate the convenience of being able to combine ingredients in one pot and leave it for a few hours; complete several other tasks on the never ending, real life “to-do” list in the meantime, only to return and have a full meal ready and waiting; slow cooking, or methods that instruct one to “set it and forget it,” do not frequent my stack of recipes I’m waiting to try.  A few weeks ago, when I impulsively purchased a huge slab of brisket, I had (by default) committed myself to the “set it and forget it” motto. Brisket is the cut of beef located in at the lower chest area of the animal, and it contains a large amount of connective tissue which requires a longer cooking time to break down, in turn, creating a tender piece of meat. In a nutshell, it’s well worth the wait.

Oktoberfest Brisket

5lb. brisket

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. brown mustard

2 Tbsp. Kosher salt

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 apple, peeled and chopped

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 bottles Stoudt’s Oktoberfest

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

4 cups, beef stock

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix garlic and mustard and rub into brisket. Combine dry ingredients and massage generously into brisket. Let brisket sit and cut apple, onion and carrots. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in roasting pan over medium heat and brown each side of the brisket, approximately 5 minutes each side. Remove brisket and add chopped apple, onion and carrots to roasting pan. Sauté until ingredients are soft. Add beer and vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by approximately ¼. Add beef stock and bring to a boil, then add brisket back to roasting pan. Cover and place in oven for 4 hours. Remove pan from oven and let sit overnight, covered. Reheat the next day at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove brisket from pan and slice thinly. Drain vegetables from gravy and add meat back to pan.

When the idea to braise the brisket in beer popped into my head, I felt an Oktoberfest beer would be a great way to incorporate the deep, toasty fall flavors I’ve been craving. Not knowing which beer would be the best to cook with, I messaged Chef Jeremy Nolen via Twitter for a recommendation. As the executive chef at Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street, I knew his advice was to be trusted; Stoudt’s Oktoberfest was his pick, so I rolled with it. Delicious on its own, the beer was the perfect choice as the base of the braising liquid. The ingredients in the rub work well with the flavors in the beer. Initially, I had assumed the spices would simply disappear into the braising liquid; however, browning the meat first sears in the flavor. Believe it or not, the cinnamon is more obvious in the end than you’d expect. To be honest, I would consider experimenting with the ratio of spices and adding more brown sugar and ginger. The beer adds a subtly bitter taste to the meat that works well with the salt in the rub and touch of tartness you receive from the apple cider vinegar. Slicing the brisket is almost too easy; after 4 hours in a beer bath, some parts of the meat simply waiting to fall apart. I served the brisket on rolls with caramelized onions; however, it would also be good over polenta or even on its own.

I must admit, it was difficult to wait so long while the intoxicating aromas filled the house. With all of the extra time you have due to slow cooking, it’s easy to think of the many things you could accomplish in the meantime. Believe me, I had a few things in mind that I wanted to get done, but the scent coming from the kitchen was like a lullaby; I took a nap and dreamt of the tender, Oktoberfest brisket that was brewing in the warm oven.

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Categories: Meat

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