I really love my slow cooker. It didn’t get much use over this year’s long hot summer. Let’s hope we have a cool fall with LOTS of rain. We need it in the West. Although it takes a bit more work, stews cooked in the slow cooker are infinitely better if you are willing to start them on the stovetop. The onions, leeks, carrots and celery benefit from being sautéed first, rather than just being plopped into cold broth. In addition, it’s far safer to put your cold brisket into a hot broth to start, rather than having the broth slowly come to a simmer over the course of an hour or more. If I am going to be at home during the cooking process I always set my slow cooker on high for the first hour, and then turn it down to low for the remainder of the cooking time. Again, this is a safer way to cook. It brings both the broth and the meat up to a high temperature faster without allowing bacteria to grow (uck). This brisket recipe has a nice smoky flavor. I love smoked paprika – and the combination of it with the fire-roasted tomatoes is sublime. Brisket, like potroast and many other stews, will be better the second day. If you’re making it for a large party, make it the day ahead and reheat it in a 9×12 pan in the oven on the day you need to serve.
Smoky Slow Cooker Brisket (6 servings)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large Vidalia or Maui onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 leeks, washed carefully, sliced lengthwise and chopped
- 4 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 4 cups beef broth
- One 14.5-oz can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen organic)
- One 10-oz jar roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade (I use TJ’s)
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 pounds brisket
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or a Dutch oven. Add the onions, leeks, carrots and celery. Sauté until soft, 10-12 minutes. Add the flour. Sauté 1 minute. Add the red wine, beef broth, fire roasted tomatoes, tapenade, and spices. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Check for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if you desire.
Place the brisket in the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour the hot broth over the top. If you are going to be home during the cooking process, turn the slow cooker on high for the first hour and then on low for 7 more hours. If you are going to be away, set your slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Because the slow cooker does not allow any evaporation, stews cooked this way often end up with a broth or sauce that’s a bit thinner than you might prefer. You have two options. One, suck it up and eat your brisket with thin sauce. Or two, remove the sauce from the slow cooker 20-30 minutes before dinnertime. Place all of the sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 20-25 minutes. Spoon thickened sauce back over the brisket and serve.