I love beef brisket. Not only is it economical and full of flavour but it’s also very forgiving. You just have to cook it nice and slow for at least 4 hours and it always turns out fine (unlike topside where there’s always a risk that it will be overdone and tough or underdone and the kids won’t eat it).
For years I’ve been cooking brisket in the same old nice (but boring) way.
- season and sear meat
- chuck in onion/carrot/garlic/herbs
- cover with red wine and beef stock
- cook on low for a whole afternoon
But then along came the lovely John Whaite who changed my outlook on this humble cut of meat. His ‘Anglo-Vietnamese shredded beef brisket’ is brisket with pizzazz. The technique is similar to mine, but with the addition of a few new exciting flavours you get a lighter, sunnier kind of dish – one that you serve with flat breads and spicy coleslaw rather than Yorkshire puddings and potatoes. There is obviously a place for both but it’s good to have another option, especially in the hotter spring/summer months when a traditional roast doesn’t really suit.
John Whaite’s Anglo-Vietnamese shredded beef brisket (from the Telegraph online)
- Salt and pepper
- 1.5kg unrolled beef brisket (my joint was actually only 850g but I still used the quantities below and it was delicious, my butcher only sells it rolled but I just cut the string and unrolled it)
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped into 8 pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and gently crushed
- The peel from 1 clementine (I used orange peel because that’s all I had)
- 3 star anise flowers
- 8 green cardamon pods, bruised
- 300ml of red wine (I used cheap rioja)
- 250ml of beef stock
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of fish sauce (I used 1 tablespoon because 1 teaspoon seemed like child’s play)
- A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 140oC fan.
Rub salt and pepper on the entire surface of the meat and sear it in a heavy casserole dish with a lid over a medium-high heat for a minute on each side.
Throw in the other ingredients and bring the liquid in the pan to a boil. Cover with a disc of baking paper, touching the surface of the meat and liquid. Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 4-4 ½ hours, until the meat is tender.
Remove the pan from the oven, but leave it covered with the meat inside for a good 30 minutes.
Remove the beef from the pan and shred, removing any big lumps of fat. Then pass the cooking liquor through a sieve before returning to the pan along with the shredded beef. Scatter with freshly chopped coriander before serving.
I served mine in a tortilla wrap (bought I’m afraid) with an Asian flavoured coleslaw (basically red cabbage, onion and carrot with leftover gyoza dipping sauce chucked over the top).