When I say I’m cooking brisket, most folks immediately think of a slow-smoked Texas barbecue brisket. And while that iconic dish made famous by our neighbors to the west is a great one and worthy of another posting, that is not at all what I’m talking about. This is a Beer-Braised Stuffed Brisket–a fork tender version that soaks up all the spicy Cajun flavors.
Yankees think of brisket in terms of things like corned beef, pastrami, or a New England boiled brisket. Again, those are delicious, and in the hands of a master cook can be downright memorable. But, those briskets are not what I’m referring to either. Truth be told, South Louisiana is not brisket country. Oh, we cook it, but it has never been a specialty or anything a bona fide Cajun cook would lay claim to. Until now.
My Beer-Braised Stuffed Brisket features a long, slow roasting which is a common South Louisiana cooking technique, and instead of a wine-based braise, I have something more Louisiana in mind. While we love great wine in Acadiana, we do not grow traditional wine-making grapes. Too much heat, rain, humidity and the soil conditions are wrong for serious viniculture. But beer is another story. South Louisiana babies are weaned on beer. Literally. Many midwives still subscribe to the old beliefs that a baby should be given a bit of beer to cure the colic and soothe the soul.
Local-grown breweries have cropped up across the state with the Knott Brothers’ Bayou Teche Brewing being one of the best; these guys are serious about their beer. Located in Arnaudville just north of Lafayette in St. Landry Parish, brewmaster Karlos Knott has formulated their beer with the single focus of complimenting the spicy, picante flavors of great Cajun foods. One of their specialty brews is the dark and complex LA-31 Bière Pâle that according to Karlos, “combines Belgian-style malts and an ample blend of East Kent Golding and Mosaic hops. It’s a bronze-colored pour with a biscuit malt center, fruity, earthy, and citrusy hop flavors and a gentle bitterness.” Even if you aren’t a beer drinker, try this Beer-Braised Stuffed Brisket, and you will begin to understand the multiple taste points a complex beer can bring to the right dish.
It’s time to cook. With the bold flavors of beer, I know that a slow liquid braise would work well and a beef brisket would be the perfect ingredient. On the way back from Arnaudville, I stopped at Kirk Martin’s Slaughter House in Carencro on the Beau Basin Road and picked out a trimmed brisket. Stuffed with the Cajun trinity of vegetables and seasoning with my seasoning blend, this meat self-bastes during the expected 3-hour cooking time. Remember, this is not a slow-smoked, Texas-style barbecue brisket but rather this Beer-Braised Stuffed Brisket is braised beef that will soak up the beer and bring out its juices to make a rich gravy. I’m talking soppin’ gravy and enough for a crusty loaf (or two) of French bread, and come to think of it, this Beer-Braised Stuffed Brisket will make a tasty sandwich or po’boy. Give it a try.
- 1 (3.5-pound) trimmed beef brisket
- 3 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 (12-ounce) bottles beer
- 2 (10-ounce) cans mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Rotel
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
- Place the brisket on a cutting board and remove any remaining excess fat. Using a sharp boning knife, slice down the middle of the brisket and cut into the flaps to make a pocket. Lightly sprinkle the interior of the meat with Cajun seasoning.
- In a mixing bowl, place all the diced vegetables and combine. Using your hands, stuff the vegetable mixture inside the meat, pressing firmly into the crevices. Pull the flaps of the meat together to close as much as you can. Sprinkle generously with Cajun seasoning.
- Place the meat on a parchment or foil-lined roaster, and add the beer along the sides of the meat. Add the diced tomatoes and green chiles along with their canning liquid.
- Cover the roaster tightly, place in the preheated oven, and cook for 3 hours.
- When the brisket is done, it should be fork-tender. Strain the liquid into a separate pot and let the brisket rest covered for at least 20 minutes.
- In the separate pot, skim the fat from the juices. Heat the juices to a simmer while making a slurry of 4 tablespoons of cornstarch and cold water. Add small amounts of the slurry to the simmering juices until the desired gravy consistency is achieved.
- Carve the brisket into large slices being sure to cut across the grain. Spoon some of the beer gravy over the meat. Present the dish family-style on a large platter with mashed potatoes, grainy Creole mustard, and a crusty loaf of French bread. Serve with mugs of ice-cold beer.
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