ONION BRAISED BEEF BRISKET – cook ahead

I originally found this recipe through America’s Test Kitchen. Their changes to a typical recipe are awesome. I just made a few flavor profile changes for my family’s likes. Brisket is one of the most versatile cuts of beef. While every culture treats it a little differently they all agree that a brisket takes TIME! So many other recipes either turn out watery and tasteless, super sweet or dry and chewy. BUT, this recipe turns out PERFECT!

Keeping this brisket moist is essential to its flavor profile. Keeping it moist is best done by making it the day BEFORE you want to serve it. By not cutting the beef until it is chilled it holds together into slices better. This also helps on the clean up level if you’re making this for company. Removing the fat from the sauce is essential to a smooth rich sauce.

ONION BRAISED BEEF BRISKET
4-5 pound flat cut brisket
2 large Vidalia onions, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick (thick slices hold up better)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
1 cup chicken broth, yes I said chicken broth
1 cup cabernet sauvignon
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs FRESH thyme (I’ve used parsley in a pinch)
FRESH ground salt and pepper
Avocado oil

  • Bring brisket to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Lower oven rack to lower middle.
  • Line your baking dish, preferably cast iron) with two to three heavy duty sheets of foil in opposite directions and long enough to fold over to seal the brisket inside.
  • Pat brisket dry and place fat side up on cutting board.
  • Using a fork or needle meat tenderizer, poke holes in meat through the fat layer.
  • Generously season both sides of brisket with salt and pepper.

 

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Place brisket fat side up in skillet.
  • Weight down brisket with bacon press or cast iron skillet and sear until well browned, about 6 minutes.
  • Remove weight and turn brisket to sear fat side another 6 minutes or so until well browned.
  • Transfer meat to platter.
  • Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat.
  • Add onions, sugar and sea salt, cooking 10-12 minutes until onions are soft.
  • Add garlic, cooking another minute or so until fragrant.
  • Add tomato paste and cook until it darkens, about 2 minutes.
  • Add paprika and chipotle powder.
  • Add flour and stir until well combined.
  • Stir in wine, broth, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and simmer 5 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom.

  • Pour onion mixture into the prepared dish and nestle brisket fat side up into the onion mixture.
  • Fold foil over and seal.
  • Bake 3 1/2-4 hours until fork slip easily into the meat and fat is broken down.
  • Carefully open foil and let brisket cool 20 minutes.

  • Transfer brisket to large bowl or baking dish.
  • Use a fine colander to strain sauce over brisket.
  • Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
  • Place onion mixture in a small bowl.
  • Cover brisket and onions with Press and Seal.
  • Cut a couple small vents into plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate the meat and onions separately at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. I do it overnight.

  • An hour before serving, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Transfer brisket to cutting board.
  • Skim fat from top of sauce and discard.
  • Pour sauce into a saucepan
  • Slowly reheat sauce, skimming as needed to get rid of excess fat until you have about 2 cups of sauce.
  • Stir in vinegar and reserved onions.
  • Season to taste.

 

  • Slice brisket against the grain and place in baking dish.
  • Pour sauce over brisket.
  • Cover dish with foil.
  • Bake until heated through. About 30 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

Linking up to FULL Plate Thursday.

CANDIED MAPLE THYME CARROTS ala HELL’S BACKBONE GRILL

My brother got me a wonderful new cook book for Christmas, THE IMMEASURABLE PLACE – FOOD AND FARMING FROM THE EDGE OF WILDERNESS by BLAKE SPALDING & JENNIFER CASTLE and LAVINA SPALDING.  He even had it signed for me.  I read it from cover to cover already and made a list of 46 recipes I want to make.

I started with this one recipe since I can eat carrots mushed up and we LOVED the flavor! I had 3 slices of crumbled bacon leftover from a recipe I took to Christmas Eve at a friend’s house that I sprinkled over the carrots.  I really think they enhanced the flavor a lot. So, we’ll start with several more next month when I can eat “regular” food again!

CANDIED MAPLE THYME CARROTS ala HELL’S BACKBONE GRILL
2 pounds carrots, sliced on an angle
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoon FRESH ground salt
2 teaspoons FRESH ground black pepper
1 LARGE clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup PURE maple syrup
2 sprigs FRESH thyme
3 slices bacon, diced and browned crisp

  • In a small saucepan whisk together everything EXCEPT the carrots, bacon and thyme, heating until well blended, syrupy and warmed through.
  • Remove from heat and toss with carrots until they are well coated.
  • Pour into a baking dish.
  • Nestle the thyme among the carrots.
  • Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, cover and bake 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and back another 15 minutes until carrots are cooked through and caramelized.

Linking up to FULL Plate Thursday.

DOUBLE APPLE BUNDT CAKE ala Dorie Greenspan

Here is another Dorie Greenspan cake that topped my list from when I did the meme several years back.

DOUBLE APPLE BUNDT CAKE

2 cups ALL PURPOSE flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup apple butter
2 eggs
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
½ cup plump golden raisins

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Butter a 12 cup Bundt pan.
  • Dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
  • Working with a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scarping the bowl as needed for 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth, thick and pale.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition; until you have a light, fluffy batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter. It may appear to curdle the batter, don’t worry it will be okay.
  • With the mixer still on low speed add the grated apples and mix to completely blend.
  • Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and raisins.
  • Turn the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with the rubber spatula.
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a think knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Transfer the pan to a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes before inverting and cooling the cake to room temperature.
  • If possible, once the cake is completely cool, wrap well in plastic and let it stand overnight at room temperature to ripen the flavors.
  • If you’re not going to ice the cake, you can dust it with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

OPTIONAL GLAZE:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange or lemon juice

  • Put the sugar in a small bowl and stir in a squirt or two of either orange or lemon juice. Keep adding the juice a little at a time until you have a glaze that falls easily from the tip of a spoon.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake letting it slide down the curves of the cake in whatever pattern it makes.
  • Let the cake stand until the glaze dries before slicing.

SHARING with FOODIE FRIDAY and TASTY THURSDAY.

FRENCH PEAR TART

8 or 9 years ago when I was a new food blogger, I joined a MEME group known as Tuesdays with Dorie where we made a different recipe from her cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, each week. Of ALL the recipes we made this was one of my all time favorites! It is PERFECT for this time of year!

FRENCH PEAR TART
SHELL
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk

  • To make the dough, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  • Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely.
  • Add egg and process in long pulses about 10 seconds each until smoother.
  • Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
  • Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap well and chill for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.
  • Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  • You want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don’t want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.
  • Freeze the crust for an hour before baking.
  • To partially bake the crust, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust.
  • Bake the crust 25 minutes.
  • Then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the pan to a cooling rack.

PEARS
3 medium pears, firm but ripe
1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups water, optional
1 1/4 cups sugar, optional

  • Peel the pears.
  • In a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears, whisk together the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the cinnamon stick and the juice of the lemon.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add the pears to the boiling syrup, reduce the heat so the syrup simmers to GENTLY poach the pears for about 15 minutes. They should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove from heat and set pan aside to cool the pears to room temperature.

ALMOND CREAM
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Add butter and sugar to a food processor and process till mixture is smooth and satiny.
  • Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.
  • Add the flour and cornstarch, process,.
  • Add the egg, processing for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is well blended.
  • Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend.
  • Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.

ASSEMBLY & BAKING

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Line a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Cut the poached pears in half.
  • Core them and make sure to pat them dry so that their liquid won’t keep the almond cream from baking.
  • Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it even with an offset metal icing spatula.
  • Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly.
  • Place it, wide-end toward the edge of the crust, over the almond cream. The halves will form spokes.
  • Put the crust on the lined baking sheet, slide the sheet into the oven and bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes.
  • The almond cream will puff up around the pears and brown. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to room temperature.
  • Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar..

NOTE:  Almond cream pairs well with a variety of fruits such as apricots, peaches and apples as substitutes or combinations.

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PUMPKIN MUFFINS

This is another recipe from the Doxie Greenspan meme I belonged to several years ago. This is another of my favorites that is perfect for this time of year.

PUMPKIN MUFFINS
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
about 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, for topping

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Butter, spray or line 12 cupcake molds in a regular-size pan.
  • Place the pan on a baking sheet.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  • Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both the sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth.
  • One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after they are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla.
  • Lower the mixer speed and mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear. To avoid over mixing, you can stop the machine early and stir in any remaining dry ingredients into the batter using a rubber spatula.
  • Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle a few sunflower seeds over the top of each muffin.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Kelly’s note: A lot of the TWD folks found that 25 minutes was too long, taking theirs out around 17 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one from its mold to finish cooling on the rack.

NOTE: Dried cranberries are an excellent substitution for the golden raisins in this recipe.

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MIMOSA CHICKEN ala BISCUIT HEAD with CAT HEAD BISCUITS

I LOVE watching cooking shows and LOL I will NOT apologize for that. If I learn just one thing or find one New recipe, it was worth my time. Watching the new Hannah Hart show the other night I learned about Biscuit Head in Asheville, North Carolina. It is said that locals and tourists alike flock there for their cathead (because they are the size of a cat’s head) biscuits, an all-you-can-eat jam and butter bar and their mimosa chicken, not to mention their fresh-squeezed mimosas and their sake-spiked bloody Marys.

I understand that husband and wife team, Jason and Carolyn Roy behind the popular cafe (which has opened two additional locations since the West Asheville spot opened in 2013) have written a new cook book, Biscuit Head New Southern Biscuits, Breakfasts, and Brunch where they reveal many of the recipes they are most popular for, including their Mimosa Fried Chicken recipe below.

THIS IS IT, the secret recipe for their phenomenal fried chicken. “While many think of chicken breasts when it comes to fried chicken, we say you can’t beat the chicken thigh. It is a more tender, moist, and flavorful cut—though if you really want to, you can substitute breast meat in this recipe. I made it with the thighs as they wrote it, but will be replacing it with breasts next time, we just prefer them.

BISCUIT HEAD MIMOSA CHICKEN Makes 4 servings

BRINE
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups orange juice
¼ cup champagne

  • Mix together all of the ingredients for the brine, Stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved, then place the chicken into the brine.
  • Cover and chill in the fridge overnight.

CHICKEN
4 large boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 quart vegetable oil
2 cups Biscuit Head Dredge (see below)

  • In large pot preheat your oil to 335°.
  • While your oil is heating up, remove the chicken from the brine and shake off any excess liquid.
  • Completely coat the chicken in the dredge by shaking in a Ziplock bag. Let the chicken thighs rest for 3 minutes in the dredge bag, then give them one more good shake in the dredge to make sure that they’re fully coated.
  • Carefully place each piece of chicken into the hot oil and fry, cooking for about 10 minutes should get the chicken right where you want it. You are looking for a nice golden crust and an internal temperature of 162°F.
  • Remove the chicken from the oil and place on a wire rack to rest a few minutes—serve it while it’s hot!

DREDGE
8 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground smoked paprika
½ tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • Sift everything together and mix well.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to one year.

NOTE:  This recipe can also be cooked in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top. Use lard if you go this route and use enough that the melted lard comes up at least halfway on what you’re cooking.  The goal is to flip just once.

CLASSIC CAT HEAD BISCUITS yields: 6 large biscuits or 8-10 smaller one
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ cups King Arthur cake flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter, cubed into small pieces and well chilled
2 cups whole buttermilk

  • Preheat your oven to 375°.
  • Adjust oven racks to center of oven.
  • Grease a baking sheet or cast-iron skillet (pan spray works fine).
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together both flours, salt, and the baking powder.
  • Gradually add the butter. DO NOT let the butter to melt or soften in your hand. You do want the butter to release steam as the biscuit cooks. That steam adds to the airiness and lightness of your final biscuit product.
  • Add the buttermilk and stir very gently to fold it in. DO NOT over mix!
  • Using an ice cream scoop, Scoop the dough onto your pan or skillet, making sure to keep the dough scoops right next to each other on the pan.
  • Bake the biscuits for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown and fluffy.

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COFFEE BREAK MUFFINS

COFFEE BREAK MUFFINS from Dorie Greenspan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat  the oven to 400.
  • Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-sized muffin tin or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.
  • Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour sugar espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps.
  • In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the coffee, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.  Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a think knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  • Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.