quick, quick, slow: Brisket & beans

Quick, quick, slow: not Foxtrot but quick-step brisket & beans.

A few days ago, I saw this super simple recipe for barbecue brisket on The Wednesday chef where Luisa cooked it in the oven instead of a slow-cooker and had to make it immediately though I used a smaller piece of meat which worked fine and was finished a little earlier (after about 4½ hours). We haven’t got a slow-cooker either and cooking it in the oven meant that there was also space for beans to be slow-cooked in another Dutch oven (Le Creuset or any other cast-iron pan with a lid) at the same time with not so much extra fuss (I am adding the instructions below).

Recommended company are cornbread and pinto beans, sounds perfect but logistically a teeny bit of a bother if you want an absolute minimum work on your part. We had dried black beans which are usually soaked overnight to cook faster but that is really not necessary here. If you wanted to be totally relieved of intermediate work, I would pour all the ingredients into a cast iron pan, forget about them and have a soupier bean dish than the one we had.

You could do the twist as well and cook the beans in a super quick way that means you need to forget all the prejudices and angst and use a pressure cooker. Imagine, you suddenly want to make those beans and oh shock, no 4 hours to cook them or it is bitter cold and you absolutely want a quick vegetarian black bean stew. Or you have inherited a pressure cooker and always thought it a bit naff to use one since the 70s/80s are long gone but then you have heard the BBC food programme a few weeks ago citing a great revival of the slow-cooker & pressure-cooker, new ways to use it and bought the book and wanted to try it out and you were amazed how easy and quick it was to get black beans in about 40 minutes with minimum work required, too. Huh, I did and here we have the account of the adapted recipe that we’ll definitely use more often.

Serve the thinly sliced brisket with a bowl of black beans, add a little bit more spice in form of smoky chile chipotle sauce if you wish, top with fresh coriander, a little grated cheese is optional and griddled flat bread or wheat tortilla on the side if not cornbread.

 

Barbeque brisket & beans

Brisket:
Debbie Koenig’s barbequed brisket recipe from her book Parents Need To Eat Too via Luisa Weiss

a 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs) beef brisket (in Germany ask for Rinderbrust oder Brustkern, which is normally used for soup or stews)
1 cup of good barbecue sauce
1 cup good apple juice

Preheat the oven to 95°-100° C or 200° F.

Mix barbecue sauce and apple juice in a dutch oven (small or large Le Creuset or other cast-iron pan with a lid), add the meat. I do not know why but the brisket should not be fully covered.  Cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 6-8 hours, checking it after about 4-5 hours.

We had a smaller 1kg piece (a little over 2lbs) that was already fork tender after 4-5 hours and I turned the meat over after half the cooking time.

Slice thinly against the grain and serve with the cooking liquid as a sauce or gravy, cornbread as suggested and the following black beans.

 

Beans:
makes quite a lot (6-8 portions), good to freeze; adapted from Catherine Phipps: The Pressure Cooker Cookbook

500g dried black beans (soaked or unsoaked)
2 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled (reserve & finely chop 2 cloves)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-3 chipotle en adobo (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil (use sunflower if you want)
bunch of coriander (cilantro), keep leaves for later and chop the stems
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, cut into small wedges
1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons sherry
salt & pepper
if you need more spice: cayenne pepper or smoked paprika, chiles, Tabasco etc.

Put the beans, bay leaves, garlic cloves (minus the two reserved ones), cumin, oregano, chipotle en adobo, oil and chopped coriander stems into a pressure cooker and cover with enough water (about 2 cm or more above the beans, respect the maximum water limit of your cooker, my 4.5l pot one was about ¾ full). Close the lid and bring to high pressure: Check your instructions, I had to heat my Fissler one on a big flame while steam was escaping until the top valve with its two markings was fully exposed. That is the moment the pot is under full pressure and the time starts to be counted. Reduce the heat to low and keep under pressure (indicated by the top valve showing two ring markings) for 12 minutes (if you are using soaked beans) or 22-25 minutes (if your beans are unsoaked). I used unsoaked black beans and 25 minutes were excellent. Switch the heat of and let the pressure subside on its own, which means do nothing and wait for about 20 minutes until the pin at the top has completely retracted) or leave it as long as you need and finish when you are ready.

While the beans are cooking, heat a small frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent and starting to brown. Add the 2 chopped garlic cloves and sweat for a scant minute, pour the tinned tomatoes (pieces, juice & everything) in, season with salt & pepper and leave on a small flame to cook for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid and get the rawness is gone.

Drain the cooked beans and catch the liquid. Return the beans to the pan, add 300ml of the cooking liquid, keep the rest in case you need to add more. Reheat if necessary (if you have left the beans to cool completely), season with salt & pepper, add the onion-tomato sauce, lime juice and sherry and check the final seasoning, adding more spice if wanted. Serve with the chopped coriander leaves on top.

If you are not using a pressure cooker: I need to try this out together to be absolute firm on cooking times and will update here, though I have cooked beans before in the oven and 1 hour less or more at this temperature does not really matter that much. Follow the ingredients assembly instructions for the beans as above, fill everything (save for the tomato-onion thing) in a dutch oven, bring to a boil over high heat, close with a lid, remove to the oven and cook alongside the brisket for 4-5 hours (at about 95-100°C or 200°F) – mimicking a slow cooker. Cook for about 3-4 hours checking on the beans to see how soft they have gotten from time to time, drain the beans and reserve the liquid, return to the dutch oven as above, add the onion-tomato sauce together with seasoning, lime & sherry, bring to the boil again and cook for about another hour back in the oven until the brisket is ready.

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