Sunday, January 27, 2013

Braised Coffee & Spice-Rubbed Beef Brisket

One of the reasons I'm not trying to reinvent the paleo blog wheel is because I tend to not be very creative or experimental in the kitchen. While over time I've become more adept in the kitchen and can make basic dishes (braises, sauces, and the like) without guidelines, when it comes to planning my weekly meals I tend to use recipes from my favorite blogs or cookbooks. One thing I can do fairly well though is to modify a recipe to make it paleo-friendly, as in the case of tonight's dinner, a braised beef brisket.

I've found eating healthfully (which to me at its very core means preparing and cooking whole, unprocessed foods for yourself) is much easier when I have less to do during the busy work week so every Sunday I tend to make one dish that will give me several meals worth of leftovers - a braised meat, a stew, something that can go in the crockpot, etc. This weekend I decided I wanted to tackle the Polyface brisket I've had in my freezer for about 6 months now. Unfortunately many of the typical recipes involve braising in beer or wine (normally okay, but not Whole 30 approved) and none of the paleo recipes were hitting the mark in terms of what I was thinking (coffee rub!) so I decided to modify this coffee-rubbed beef brisket with parsley couscous recipe from Serious Eats to make it Whole 30 friendly and use ingredients I had on hand. Here's what I did:

I mixed 3T Rogan Josh spice mix from the Savory Spice Shop with 2T ground Zeke's coffee and 1t salt and rubbed the trimmed 4 1/2 lb brisket with it and let it sit at room temp for a couple of hours (it was still a tiny bit frozen).

When I was ready to start the braise, I heated some sunflower oil in my deep stainless pan and seared the brisket on both sides. I then removed the brisket, added a touch more oil and sauteed 2 thinly sliced onions until soft. To the onions I added 4T organic tomato paste, 3T red wine vinegar, and a tiny amount (1t?) of molasses (no idea if molasses is Whole 30 approved, probably not, but I was trying to replace the ketchup and figured a tiny amount wouldn't hurt), 3 smashed gloves of garlic and the zest from one lemon.

I simmered that for a minute, then added 2c beef broth, 1 28 oz can Muir Glen organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, and 2 bay leaves. Once the sauce was simmering, I added the brisket back in, making sure it was covered in sauce, covered the pan with a sheet of parchment paper and the lid and put it in the oven at 350 to braise for a few hours.

When it was done, I let it rest in the liquid while I made some cauliflower puree and roasted Bohemian brussels sprouts, then I sliced up the brisket and served it over the puree with a good dose of sauce. Here's what my plate looked like:
I am really pleased with how this dish turned out. I especially liked how the sweetness of the cauliflower puree (I pureed the steamed cauliflower with some diced sweet onion sauteed in butter ghee okay, it was butter) played with the umami flavors from the tomato-y sauce. 

Okay, confession. I accidentally had the oven set at 400 degrees for the first hour, but the brisket wasn't really any worse for the wear - maybe just a tad dry at the very ends. But, don't do what I did. Low and slow is the way to go. :)


  1. I have a brisket in the freezer that I would love to use to make this recipe - yum! However, I don't have Rogan Josh seasoning on hand. What would you recommend as a substitute?


    1. The original recipe called for ras el hanout so you could of course use that, but if you have neither on hand, you can make your own Rogan Josh seasoning. Mel at The Clothes Make the Girl has a recipe:

  2. Thanks! I made her Ras el Hanout spice blend already and have that on hand, so I'll try it with that.

    1. Great! Let me know how it turns out.