A few months after I started dating my now husband, I thought it would be a cute idea to surprise him with his favorite meal. I still hadn’t met his parents yet, but after some searching I was able to find their phone number. I’m a regular Nancy Drew, I tell ya.
As I’m dialing them up, I’m trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to say to them since we hadn’t spoken before. They weren’t home at the time I called so I left a timid message that went a little like this…”Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Ginsberg. My name is Christa. I’ve been dating your son for a few months now and I would really like to surprise him with his favorite meal…and…and…I was hoping I could get your brisket and potato recipe from you so I could make it for him tomorrow night?”
Luckily, his Mom called me back that night and was happy to pass along the recipe, but I think even happier knowing that one of her sons had a girlfriend. But here’s where it goes bad, folks. Very bad. I had written the recipe down that my now mother-in-law gave me to a tee, but the recipe turned out absolutely nothing like his favorite meal. Like, not even close. I am convinced that my mother-in-law forgot to give me a key ingredient or didn’t tell me a step. But she would never do that to me, right? Hey wait a minute…
So, what’s the lesson here? Don’t ever try to recreate your husbands favorite meal that his Mom makes. Just don’t. It will never compare no matter what you do. It’s best to just try to make his favorite recipe a new way or it will mess with your head. You’ll get over it eventually. I did. Okay, it still bugs me. But only a little. Okay, a lot. *sigh*
Enter Ina. Yes, another Ina Garten recipe. Just tweaked to make it my own. My husband begged me not to give out this recipe, but it’s too good not to share with my Simply Chic Living peeps! Believe me. Try this recipe and your family will think you are the most amazing cook on the planet!
When it comes to meat, it’s so important to make friends with the butcher. Go to the best grocer in town so you can find a beauty like this hunk of meat. See all that fat? Think that’s a lot? Trust me…there’s more on the other side.
See? Told ya.
Leave every piece of fat on there.
Why? Because this is what’s going to keep your meat moist, tender, and add flavor.
Don’t worry. You’ll be slicing the layer off after it’s done cooking. Or, you can keep it on if you enjoy it.
Put your hunk of meat in a roasting pan and set aside.
Hmmm…I’m looking at the meat now and thinking that studding it with some garlic cloves would be a great addition of flavor.
Yes. Take your knife and poke a few holes in your meat and insert some garlic cloves now.
I just decided that.
Take your cloves of garlic and chop it up.
Love garlic? Add some more.
I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever had too much garlic in a dish? Is that even possible?
Combine your garlic, kosher salt, pepper and oregano in a bowl.
Mix it really well.
Man, o man. If you could only smell how good it smells in this house right now!
Now take that mixture and shmear it all over the meat like so.
Now let’s pause.
Are you asking yourself if you missed a step because you see vegetable surrounding the meat?
Well, you didn’t miss a step.
The smell the ingredients made me a little loco in the cabeza and I forgot to add the spice mixture to the meat before I piled my veggies on top.
Which just goes to show you everyone makes mistakes.
All. the. time.
So, let’s pretend you just shmeared the meat with the spice mixture.
It’s time to peel and slice up your onions.
This is a perfect time to use your food processor with the slicing blade if you have one.
Or if you don’t like to dirty up a dish, just use your knife the old fashioned way like I did.
Excuse me while I grab a tissue. The juice from the onions always make me cry. Does this happen to anyone else? Any tips?
Perhaps I should invest in some of these?
I think I’m definitely going to add these to my wish list.
Pink is my signature color. Quick…what movie is that from?!
All right…moving on.
Toss your onions on the brisket.
Peel and chop up your carrots in about 2 inch chunks.
If you find that you have a large carrot, cut it in half so that you keep all of your pieces in uniform pieces. They’ll cook more evenly that way.
Toss ‘em on top of your onions.
Chop up the celery just like you did the carrots.
Toss ‘em in the pool of veggies.
Add your bay leaves.
Now, are you ready for the secret ingredient?
It’s the most crucial part of this whole recipe.
This is what’s going to take your brisket from good to AMAZING!
And, please. For me. Don’t skimp and use a generic version.
I’ve done it before.
Spend the extra few dollars for the real stuff.
You’ll thank me later.
Now, here’s where Ina and I differ in this recipe.
In the original recipe, Ina says to only add 1, 64 ounce of V8.
Not having the audacity to sway from Ina’s recipe, I cooked the brisket exactly as I was instructed to.
I found that the meat was still a bit tough which was probably attributed to the fact that the tomato-y goodness from the V8 juice had cooked down so much that it didn’t cover the meat enough to keep it moist.
So, I am breaking the Ina Garten mold which is terrible because I love her so.
But trust me when I say that 96 ounces of V8 juice (if you’re trying to do the math in your head that’s 1 1/2 cans of 64 ounces of V8 people) is the PERFECT amount of liquid to add.
Once you’ve poured it in, ever so gently lift your meat to make sure some of the juices get on the underside of the meat.
Cover the meat in a layer of parchment (I need two sheets to cover my large roasting pan) and then a layer of heavy duty foil.
The parchment layer is to prevent the foil from touching the tomato juice.
Because once it hits it while it’s cooking say good-bye to the brisket.
There’s nothing like the taste of tin in your tomato sauce. So, please. Make sure you have parchment on hand because it would be so sad to lose this meal over something so silly as not having parchment paper.
Put this baby into your oven now and remember. We’re cooking loooow and sloooow.
275 degress for about 6 – 8 hours and you will have the most tender, moist, perfectly cut of meat ever.
Yeah, I said it. Ever.
Come to mama!
Scrape off the veggies and spice mixture on top of the brisket before lifting it out of the roasting pan. You want to incorporate all of those delicious tid bits back into your sauce.
Now, carefully take your brisket out and place it on a sturdy cutting board. It’s important that your cutting board have grooves so that it can collect the juices when you’re cutting.
Remember that layer of fat I was talking about earlier? Here’s what it looks like when it’s all cooked down.
Take a knife and a large fork (a grilling fork works wonderfully for this size of meat) and slice of the layer of fat. The foil you used to cover the meat with is perfect for placing the discarded fat on. Just toss it in the trash when you’re done.
Important step, people. Slice a bit off the end and taste test.
You will die. And we haven’t even added the sauce yet…
To make the meat more manageable when slicing, I like to cut it in half like so.
Slice up your meat against the grain.
If you slice it with the grain, you will get a tough, chewy piece of meat.
Here’s where it gets a bit messy.
Using a large ladle, a small strainer, and a bowl (I’m using my 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup in the picture) ladle the veggies and tomato sauce into the strainer.
You’ll also need to have another bowl right next to you to put the veggies in once all of the juices have strained through.
Be sure to keep the carrots and onions to go with your meal, though. They’re loaded with flavor!
Continue straining the whole roasting pan full of veggies and juices.
Until you get this bowl of deeeelicious flavor town.
I could swim in it.
Put a little behind the ears and my husband would be all over me.
Place your meat on a platter.
Take your veggies and arrange them on or around your meat however you like.
Then take your bowl full of delicious tomato sauce and pour it over every single inch of the brisket.
Then, stand back and take pride in the fact that your about to blow the socks off of your family.
I now crown you the Queen above all Queens of Domestic Goddess’.
Unless your a man.
Then you would be dubbed King of all Queens.
That didn’t come out right?
About rock star cook for the evening? Yes. That’s better.
Now go enjoy your meal with the family and report back to me all the praise you got!
Wanna know what’s even better then brisket tonight? Brisket tomorrow. It’s even better the second day.
But that’s only if you have any leftovers from tonight…
Brisket with Carrots and Onions
as adapted by Ina Garten
6 to 7 lbs. Beef Brisket
4 – 6 Whole Cloves Garlic, peeled
2 TBLS Kosher Salt
2 TSP Freshly Ground Pepper
1 TBLS Minced Garlic (4 Cloves)
2 TSP Dried Oregano Leaves
1 lb. Carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
2 stalks Celery, cut into 3″ chunks
6 Yellow Onions, peeled and sliced
6 Fresh or Dried Bay Leaves
2, 64 ounces of V8 Tomato Juice (you’ll only use 96 ounces)
Heavy Duty Foil
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Place the brisket in a heavy roasting pan. Using the tip of your knife, poke four to six slits into your brisket. Place your peeled garlic cloves in each slit.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, minced garlic and oregano. Rub it onto the brisket. Pile the onions, carrots, celery and bay leaves on top of the brisket. Pour in enough V8 mixture to come up about 3/4 up the sides of the roasting pan. Cover the meat in the roasting pan with a layer of parchment followed by a layer of foil. Bake for 6-8 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the pan and slice against the grain. Place on a serving platter. Strain vegetables and sauce into a bowl. Top meat with the sauce and serve with the vegetables.