Archive | June, 2009

A Brisket, A Basket

29 Jun

brisket take 2The skillful Stampede-goer knows the perfect late night snack for post-chuckwagon races and Cowboys closer.

And it’s not pizza.

These miniature brisket buns are divine. In anticipation of many late nights, we cooked a huge brisket in advance, sliced it, packaged it into portions, and armed ourselves with pillowy parkerhouse rolls. We popped everything into the freezer so they can be set out to thaw by the time you roll in with your bleary eyes and barking dogs. A hot summer night with friends on the patio, fireworks in the sky, cold beer nightcap and a mini beef bun. Cheers — it’s another perfect Stampede night.

Stampede Brisket
Recipe from President’s Choice

1/4 cup (50 mL) canola oil 
2 lb (1 kg) onions, thinly sliced 
1/2 cup (125 mL) PC Smokin’ Stampede Beer & Chipotle Barbecue Sauce **
1  beef brisket, about 5 lb (2.2 kg)
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) beef broth 
1/2 cup (125 mL) crushed tomatoes 
1 bottle (341 mL) beer
1  bay leaf
 

(This baby is as saucy as we are. We strained the liquid into a mason jar and used it as au jus for dipping our buns. But any other time of year we would serve this with mashed potatoes. True story.)

(** The label on PC Smokin’ Stampede Beer & Chipotle Barbecue Sauce says it’s made with honey red beer, bourbon, chipotle peppers and dark coffee. Although we usually prefer to concoct our sauces from scratch, this is dynamite. Good heat and not too sweet).
Add broth, beer, and tomato sauce and bay leaf to slow cooker to heat up while you prepare onions and beef.
In large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp (25 mL) of oil over medium heat. Stir in onions. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until deep golden brown. Reduce heat if onions start to scorch, and feel free to add liquid to keep them moist (beer or tomato juice). Make sure pan is deglazed and add onions to slow cooker, scraping all the juices with them.
In clean large frying pan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. If brisket is too large to fit in your frying pan, cut it in half crosswise (across the grain) and brown each piece separately. Transfer to slow cooker. Deglaze pan so you can add drippings to slow cooker.
Cover slow cooker and let cook for 8 hours on low setting.

After 8 hours (note: we reduced our cooking time because our slow cooker is an overachiever), transfer brisket to cutting board, leaving sauce in slow cooker. Discard bay leaf and skim fat from top of sauce. Slice brisket across the grain into 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick slices. Return sliced brisket to slow cooker. Serve hot, with mashed potatoes if desired.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Hungry

29 Jun

Good_the_bad_and_the_ugly_posterWe love the Calgary Stampede’s 10-day party, but navigating through all those free pancake breakfasts, corporate blowouts, backyard beef-on-a-bun parties, and midway gutbusters (corndogs, mini doughnuts, deep-fried anything else) can be treacherous.

Stampede warmup parties are a beloved tradition to get your stomach (and liver) in good practice for all the late night debauchery and steady drinking. But beware the bubbling western bean pots and hockey puck hamburgers.

To kick things off this year, a Spaghetti Western party is in order.

Who wouldn’t die for pasta with beef and whiskey, especially if accompanied by a round of welcome wagon drinks and Clint Eastwood?

Screen some western classics (sans sound, of course) on your big screen for instant scenery: A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, High Noon or Shane. Follow dinner with a showing of Blazing Saddles or The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance until last man standing.

The Quick and the Dead Spaghetti Western
Recipe from TBS Dinner and a Movie
1 shot whiskey
2 lbs. skirt steak
1 lb. ground pork
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup whole milk
2 to 3 dried New Mexico chiles
1 cup chopped onion
1 or 2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sage
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, with juice
1 6-ounce can roasted chiles, chopped
1 cup beef stock
1 cup beer
1 bay leaf
1 lb. spaghetti
1 big beef (to settle with a bad guy)

Chop the beef into small pieces by hand, toss with the whiskey and set aside for 10 minutes.
In a large Dutch oven, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Brown the beef and pork in three or four batches. Drain and discard fat from the Dutch oven and reduce heat to medium. Return all the browned meat to the pot, add the milk and a pinch of salt and simmer until the milk has cooked away completely, then remove from heat.
Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toast the dried chiles for 2-3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, break open peppers and remove the seeds, membrane, and stems. Place chiles in food processor or coffee grinder and pulverize. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a separate cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno pepper and saute until the onion becomes translucent; add the celery, carrot and bell pepper and continue cooking 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, ground toasted chiles, chili flakes, oregano, and sage to the skillet; cook 1 minute stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
Add the beer, let it cook until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes with their juice and the canned chiles. Stir well with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom and sides to loosen any tasty bits stuck to the skillet. Transfer contents of the skillet to the Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Add the beef stock and bay leaf to the Dutch oven, stirring well to mix all the ingredients and bring to a low boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, half cover the pot and simmer from 1 to 2 hours, until the meat is tender.
Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot, add two tablespoons of salt and return to a boil. Add the pasta all at once and stir immediately to prevent sticking. Cover the pot until the water returns to a boil again, then uncover and stir until the pasta is al dente, stirring often.
Drain the pasta into a colander over a large pasta bowl. Dump out the water and wipe the bowl with a towel before transferring the pasta to the warmed bowl. Immediately ladle the sauce over the pasta. Toss and serve in shallow bowls.
Serves plenty (6-8)