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.