Here’s what I’ve discovered about using a slow cooker for the last few months – the amount of broth necessary to cover meat in a slow cooker while it cooks is almost always more broth than you want at the end, and since there is no evaporation during the cooking cycle the sauce is often thin and a bit bland. Most of the time I find that once the cooking cycle is done I need to boil the sauce on the stovetop for 30 mins or so so that it is significantly reduced. This is one such recipe. If you try to serve the brisket with the sauce as is – straight out of the slow cooker, you’ll find that it is very watery. Thirty minutes on a low boil on the stovetop is just the ticket. As you’ll see below, I make this dish a day ahead. Most brisket and pot roast recipes taste loads better the second day which means that this is a perfect recipe for a big dinner party (at least perfect for a dinner party for people who like brisket). You can do all of the work the day before. Just pop the pan in the oven on the day of the dinner party and you’ll look like the consummate professional. No last minute whir of activity, no sweaty brow when the guests arrive, no failed soufflé sinking just as Martha Stewart walks into the foyer (do people actually have foyers? I don’t think I’d know a foyer if I ran one over with my mini-cooper).
Slow Cooker Brisket with Dried Apricots and Cranberries (serves eight)
- 2/3 cup quartered dried apricots
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6-7 pounds flat-cut beef brisket
- 1 ½ cups chopped onions
- 4 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 4 cups beef stock
- One 12-oz jar or can cranberry sauce
Combine 1/3 cup apricots, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, 3 garlic cloves, salt, cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon pepper in food processor. Chop until it is a coarse puree. Pat the dried fruit mixture over the top of the pieces of brisket.
Place the remaining dried apricots, dried cranberries, onions, carrots, cayenne pepper, red wine, beef stock, and cranberry sauce in the slow cooker. Stir gently. Place the brisket in the slow cooker making sure some of the liquid covers the meat. If you need to cut the brisket in half in order to help it fit, do so. Cook on the low setting for 8 hours. At the end of the cycle, remove the meat. Place in a rectangular baking dish. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. While the meat is cooling place everything from the slow cooker in a medium pot on the stove. Bring to a low boil and boil for 30 minutes. Pour the now reduced sauce over the meat and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the brisket and the sauce from the fridge. Using tongs remove the brisket from the sauce. Place chilled brisket on a cutting board. Slice brisket thinly across the grain. Once sliced, arrange the brisket in a 9×12 baking dish. Spoon the reduced sauce over the top. Cover with foil. Place in a 350 oven for 40-50 minutes until heated through. Serve.