I’m going through a phase. We all go through them. Sometimes it’s a black lipstick and creeper shoes-wearing thing. Or bad boys with leather jackets and motorbikes. Scuba diving. Knitting. Dance classes, because you marathoned all of the Step Up movies in a weekend, and you can totally do that.
At the moment, I’m obsessed with Jewish cook books. The transition into winter is probably the catalyst, following on from all the Lent-inspired recipes. Jewish cooking looks so comforting. If any kind of food felt like a warm hug, it’s definitely this. A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Monday Morning Cooking Club: The Feast Goes on. I liked it so much, I immediately picked up their other book. We’re going to come back and talk about this another day, but the important thing to note is: brisket. These books love brisket. I was immediately inspired.
Brisket, if you’ve never come across it before, is cut from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. It’s a tough piece of meat which benefits from some super slow cooking to render it tender and melty. I picked mine up from the magical team at Gingin Beef at the Subi Farmers Markets. Ask your local butcher for it, because you won’t find it at Coles or Woolies.
Now I know what you’re thinking. This looks like a lot of work. I mean, brisket sounds fancy and complicated. But fear not! It’s incredibly simple, I promise. Would I lie to you?
The barbecue sauce is made up from stuff that you’ve probably got in your pantry. The spice rub is super easy to throw together, but if you’ve got a pre-made rub in the back of the cupboard, feel free to use it. Mac and cheese can be thrown together is 10 minutes. The recipe can even be doubled, or tripled, and divided up and frozen for future can’t-be-assed-cooking nights – and with the impending cold weather, we all know there are plenty of those comin’.
Now. The recipe that follows serves 6-8 people, so feel free to halve it all. The piece of brisket I used was 900g, which was a touch small for 4 people, so maybe aim for 1.2kg for 4 people.
Beef Brisket and Mac and Cheese
A piece of brisket, about 5kg
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
500ml tomato sauce
100ml Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp each chilli powder and mustard powder
1 tbsp each paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, ground black pepper, castor sugar
1 bay leaf, crushed
To make the barbecue sauce, cook the onion and garlic in the oil, in a large fan over medium heat. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and blend with a food processor to form a smooth puree.
Add the sauce and two cups of water to a roasting tray, pop in the brisket, then cover tightly with baking paper and then foil. Place in the oven and roast for at least 4 hours (maybe 5 if it’s a big piece), until it’s fork-tender.
Mac and Cheese
1 small brown onion, finely diced
4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
150g grated aged cheddar
350g grated gruyere
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp seeded Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Place the pasta in a large pot boiling salted water, and cook according to packet instructions until al-dente. Drain well and set aside.
Heat some oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then cool the onion and bacon until the onion is soft and the bacon is golden. Remove from the pan and leave to drain on a paper towel. Return the pan to high heat and add the cream, brining to a boil. Lower the heat and add the garlic, mustard, paprika and cheese.
Simmer for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted and sauce thickens. Return the onion and bacon to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
In a large baking dish, add the pasta and sauce, stir until the pasta is coated, then top with the breadcrumbs and parsley. If you’re prepping the mac and cheese in advance, refrigerate until the brisket comes out of the oven, turn up the heat to 200* and cook until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.
In the interest of your arteries, serve with some kind of token salad. It definitely cancels out.