This week, as the chef for The Student, we will be following this simple recipe to make a delicious dish of slow braised brisket, creamy mash potato, and glazed carrots. The dish requires simple ingredients; it only costs £3 a portion; and you will even have some left over brisket for the best sandwiches imaginable. It may take some time to perfect but with practice it will look great, and the flavours will fit with any top restaurant’s menu.
Why did we choose brisket as our treat of the week? Brisket is a tough and fatty cut of beef. When cooked slowly, it will soften, and the fat will render so we’ll be left with a tender piece of beef. It has to cook for four hours, so if you are worried about having time for this recipe, you can easily pop it in the oven, go off to a lecture, and come back to a great smelling flat!
(per person) 200 grams Beef Brisket – 200 grams potatoes (one or two) – 150 grams carrots (one large or two small) – 2 mugs of water/stock – Olive oil – salt and pepper – 1 Onion – 50 ml Cream – 3 knobs of butter – Squeeze of honey – Fresh or dried thyme (a stalk-worth of leaves)
First, prepare the brisket. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat up an ovenproof saucepan or a deep roasting tray on a high heat. Add some oil and sear the beef till it gets a great golden brown crust to it. Take off the heat and add a roughly chopped onion and a carrot to the pan. Now add two big mugs of water or stock to the pan, stir, cover with a lid or tin foil, and place in the oven at 150C for three to four hours. If you can, check on it halfway through, just to see whether it needs a bit more liquid or if the liquid is boiling. If it is, simply turn down the oven a little bit.
When the beef is 45 minutes from being ready, start on the rest of the dish. This recipe for mashed potatoes is one I had to cook 40 times a day in a restaurant in London. It is delicious and simple, but it requires a bit of care. First, peel the potatoes and cut into slices 1/2cm thick. Bring to the boil in plenty of salted water, and leave boiling until a knife can easily pass through the potato. Drain in a colander and leave them in the sink to steam. Place the pan back on the heat and add cream to let a creamy texture develop. Add two knobs of butter and some water from the cooking carrots (see next paragraph). Let this come to the boil on a low heat and then add the potato back in. Season well with plenty of salt and pepper. Now whisk everything until it forms a very smooth and quite wet mash. Add a glug of olive oil for more flavour and stir well.
As the potatoes are coming to the boil, peel the carrots, and cut into chunky batons. Place in a pan of cold water (just a mugful), add a squeeze of honey or maple syrup, season with salt, and add some thyme (dried or fresh). Cook on a medium heat until soft (20-25 minutes).
At this stage, the beef will be ready to take out. Put it on a plate and cover with foil to keep it hot. Put the juices back on a high heat until the amount is reduced by a half, and it is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. Add a knob of of butter and stir vigorously to emulsify.
To plate up, thinly carve the beef and layer it on a fluffy pile of potatoes and carrots. Dribble the sauce around the outside of the plate and garnish with a quick pour of olive oil.
Image: Flickr: <Edsel Little>