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Family Central: Bring On the Brisket

Some of my favorite memories growing up are centered around the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen of the house where I grew up. These memories became even more important, especially as I got older, moved away, and then would return mostly for holidays and special summer visits.

My parents’ home cooking was something I took for granted until I was living 12 hours away and couldn’t find a slab of ribs, bowl of turnip greens or plate of butter beans anywhere!

Another one of my family’s favorites was my father’s smoked beef brisket. Well, anything Daddy pulled off the smoker, we inhaled. There were six of our hungry mouths to feed, and we weren’t ashamed of our carnivorous appetites. Dad usually did his best to juggle work and to make use of the charcoal monument he had built in the back driveway, but some nights – when he was delivering a baby and couldn’t get home – my mother would turn on the oven and make this wonderfully tender beef brisket.

The vegetables cook alongside, so you don’t really need much else, except maybe some Texas toast to “sop” up all the delicious pan juices and something green to make your plate colorful and healthy.


Beer-Braised Brisket

5 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 1/2 lbs beef brisket
4 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
12 oz pale beer
3 cups water, divided
1 lb new potatoes
3 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine chili powder, fennel seed, salt and pepper. Rub over brisket, covering all sides. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet to medium-high. Add brisket and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add onion to pot and sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste, and cook 1 minute. Add beer and 2 cups of water, scraping bottom of pan to get all of the browned bits. Bring to a boil. Add brisket back to the pot and transfer to oven.  Cook (braise) for 3 hours.

Remove from oven and hold the pan at an angle to spoon off as much fat as you can. Add potatoes, carrots and 1 more cup of water. Cook 1 more hour. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Stir apple cider vinegar in with vegetables and serve.

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