Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy

With the changing fall temperatures, I've been craving hearty, slow cooked meals. This week was especially cool so it was the perfect time to bring out the slow-cooker and make a tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket with sweet onion gravy. After 8 hours of cooking in red wine and broth, the meat was literally falling apart. Then I pureed the onions in the broth to create a sweet, thick gravy with hints of thyme and rosemary. I served this over hot egg noodles, but rice or potatoes would also be great. This was exactly what I needed for dinner on a chilly day.

Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy
Servings: about 6

1 (4 to 5 lb) beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
4 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
5 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium beef broth, divided
1 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Dry the brisket with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Add the brisket to the hot skillet and cook until a brown crust forms. Flip over and brown the other side. Transfer to the slow-cooker. 

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tsp. oil to the skillet. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until at least reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow-cooker.

Add the chicken broth, 1 3/4 cups beef broth, and brown sugar to the slow-cooker. Tie the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and rosemary sprig together with kitchen twine and place in the slow-cooker. 

Cook for 8 to 9 hours on low, or until the meat is very tender and pierces easily with a fork. (Note: If the brisket feels tough, then it is undercooked, not overcooked. Be sure to cook the brisket until it is very tender in the middle and almost falling apart.) When the brisket is done, remove it from the slow-cooker and loosely tent with foil. Remove the herb bouquet and discard.

To make the gravy, turn the slow-cooker to high heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the onions in the broth until a smooth gravy forms. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup beef broth and 2 tbsp. flour, and stir into the gravy. Cook for 15-30 minutes or until thickened. Add the apple cider vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Thinly slice the brisket across the grain. Return to the slow-cooker with the gravy. Alternatively, transfer the brisket to a serving platter and pour the gravy over the meat or serve on the side.

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