Try this delicious pulled beef recipe
You know, since my rub blog post a couple of weeks ago, it’s got me thinking a lot about briskets (probably more than what is considered healthy). So I’ve decided to give in to my whim and cook one over the weekend. A spicy, slow cooked, pulled beef brisket to be precise (oh my mouth is watering at just the thought of it – I really shouldn’t be as excited as I am).
If you can’t do a slow roast on a lazy Saturday, when can you? But if my previous brisket recipe, which took a whopping 19 hours from start to finish, is too much of a time commitment for you, then this mere 4-hour recipe might be a quick, slow roast alternative. (Is that an oxymoron? Perhaps but let’s go with it.)
- 1kg Scotch Beef PGI brisket
- A little olive oil (to brush over the rubbed beef)
For the rub:
- 2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
For the vegetable base:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, thickly sliced
- 4 sweet peppers, deseeded and cut in quarters
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 400ml beef or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Taco shells or rice for serving
- Soured cream or Greek yogurt
To start, you should score the brisket all over with a sharp knife, or ask your butcher to do it for you, (which I should have done as my knife was a little too sharp and went through the beef like butter, but not to worry, it’ll be a pulled beef by the end of this).
Now you can start getting that rub ready. Pound together all the rub ingredients with a pestle and mortar. This will take you a little time to bash the spices into submission but approach the task with a little exuberance (or feistiness, if you prefer) and you’ll be set. Once the rub is as fine as your patience will allow, rub the ruby rubble all over the beef and set aside.
For the vegetable layer, fry the thick slices of onion gently with olive oil for about 5 minutes until softened but not brown (a little salt will help with this as it draws out the liquid and encourages them to go lovely and translucent). Then pop in the pepper chunks and stir all together for a minute or two. Throw in the tomatoes, stock and a bay leaf and bring to the boil.
Now on to browning the meat. Brush the brisket with olive oil, creating a deep, woody paste all over, then get it on the heat in a heavy-based pan and brown each side of the beef. Once it’s coloured and gorgeous, sit it on top of the vegetables, cover with the lid, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook over a very gentle heat on the hob (or in the oven set at about 160°C) for 3 to 3½ hours.
I have to confess, I’m somewhat of a lonely stirrer. In other words, I like to fuss over a pot and watch (and taste) the progress. So being told “pop this in the oven and leave it for 3½ hours” is like a cooking torture. Needless to say that’s why I’m a rotten baker. But to satisfy my stirring needs, I’m pleased to say it’s good to check on the liquid levels in the pan from time to time so that it doesn’t boil dry.
When the meat is ready you’ll be able to pull it apart into succulent strands using two large forks, which is truly satisfying and brings out my cavewoman, carnivorous instincts. And if you can tear the meat apart without the need to phooar loudly then tell me how. Once you’ve shredded the meat into a big mountain of delicious pulled beef, keep it warm while you attend to the veggies and sauce mix. If there’s too much liquid around the veg, boil it some more until the juices are syrupy. Give it a little taste (or a big taste) for seasoning and toss in a little salt if it’s needed, with a little over the shoulder for no real reason whatsoever.
To serve, I think stuffed into a taco shell with a ladle of sauce and a dollop of sour cream is about as perfect as it gets. Do expect a slight religious experience when you crunch into your first bite (although this could just be me, but I doubt it).
It’s funny because I gave this pulled beef recipe to a friend and she said “serves 8, aye right. 4 of us polished it off”. Now I think that says it all.