Thursday, 25 September 2014

BOOM: Bourbon & Coke Beef Brisket Recipe

Let’s not beat around the bush, we all love Bourbon; be it on the rocks, in an old fashioned, or even mixed with coke. Now other than drinking delicious booze, cooking with it is another favourite of ours at Vinspire, and I’ve got just the thing for all you Bourbon buffs out there. Vegetarians look away, this one’s for carnivores only: Bourbon & Coke Beef Brisket!

One lazy Sunday morning, possibly after one too many wines the night before, I decided that it would be a good idea to cook a super duper dinner to console my self-pity and get me back on top form for work the next day. It had to be a dish that I could whack in the oven, forget about for numerous hours, and then hello; awesome food made with minimal effort.

Pulled pork is everywhere at the moment - not surprising really as it’s so frickin’ good – but because of that, I wanted to go for something a little different. Having seen a recipe for Root Beer Brisket in Harry Eastwood’s ‘A Salad for All Seasons’, and not having any root beer, I thought I’d change it up and make it into something Jack Daniels himself would be proud of.

The bourbon of choice for me, somewhat controversially, was Lidl’s Western Gold Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. It won ‘Silver – Outstanding’ in the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2012, and ‘Silver’ at the International Spirits Challenge in 2013, and at around the £13 mark, it’s pretty decent for the price. It’s probably most like Jim Beam and in classic Lidl form the label is VERY similar.

I opted for Fentimans Curiosity Cola (£1.19 at Tesco) to go in too; I thought that the more traditional herbal, ginger infused cola would add a better flavour than your average coke, but by all means use what you’ve got.

Cooked low and slow (6 hours!), using all the kind of staples you’d have in your kitchen – no lengthy list of crazy herbs and spices here – this is a seriously easy dish to make, you’ve just got to be patient... And trust me, it’s worth it.

I shall warn you now, with the heavenly smells oozing out of your oven, you’ll be watching the timer like a hawk, begging it to hurry up. Tummies will be rumbling and mouths salivating as you take it out of the oven, and the ultimate satisfaction (other than eating it) comes when you touch it with a fork and it all pulls apart with ease.

Truth be told, I made this over a month ago, and served the sweet sticky Bourbon beef with some flatbreads and homemade slaw. I froze the leftovers and had it again last weekend - prompting me to share the recipe with you - this time in a brioche bun (£1 for 4, Tesco) with lettuce, pickled carrots, and a generous dollop of soured cream. Oh, and chips obviously.

The Bourbon & Coke Beef Brisket has such a rich deep flavour that it works perfectly with fresh, salad-y accompaniments, but as the nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air, I can see this being amazing on top of some creamy mashed potato... Comfort food at its finest.

Enough’s enough, here’s how to make it:

Bourbon & Coke Beef Brisket
(Serves 6)

  • 1.5kg beef brisket
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 100g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 10 allspice seeds, or 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250ml coke (I recommend Fentimans Curiosity Cola)
  • 100ml bourbon

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan-assisted/275°F.
  2. Fry the beef with the oil in a very large casserole pan until golden all over. Remove and set aside. Add all the other ingredients to the pan (garlic, shallots, allspice, salt, sugar, ketchup, cayenne pepper, coke and bourbon). Stir over the heat to dissolve the sugar, and let the flavours get to know one another.
  3. Add the browned beef and any juices that may have formed from resting to the pan. Put the lid on and place in the centre of your preheated oven. Leave it there for 3 hours and don't be tempted to have a look during this time; it'll be fine.
  4. After 3 hours, give the mixture a good stir (scraping any bits that may be are stuck at the bottom) and turn the beef over. Return it to the oven for another 3 hours. When its 6th hour is up, take the casserole pan out of the oven and set aside for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the brisket and place in a large shallow dish/serving plate. With two forks, pull the meat apart, and then pour over any thick syrupy juices that are left in the pan. Serve in whatever way you see fit!

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