Cooking Now, for Later: Chris’s Braised Brisket

“I hate figuring out what to make for dinner.”

It’s a common complaint amongst most people who breathe. Although the act of sitting down to dinner affords one the opportunity to feel relaxed and at ease, it’s all the mess of things that comes before the act of sitting and eating that really sends our blood pressure into the stratosphere.

Figuring out dinner is more than just choosing a recipe. It’s considering the appetites and taste buds of all those participating. It’s coming up with a menu. It’s composing a grocery list. It’s fighting the 5:00 traffic to the grocery store only to discover that they are out of parsley and the arugula looks wilty. It’s getting home and realizing you forgot something. It’s improvising. It’s timing everything so that food hits the table before whining and animosity fill the air. It’s a balancing act that requires foresight, grace, creativity, and patience. And after a long day at work, it can be considered the hardest part of the day.

Sure, thought is an ironclad necessity when it comes to making dinner, but there are ways to make the thought process a little bit easier. Our favorite? Stretching one ingredient through a slew of different meals.

Chris’s Braised Brisket is the ideal candidate. Throw it in the oven on Monday morning, eat it for dinner that night, and come Tuesday [and Thursday], you’ll have leftovers a plenty and minimal cook-time necessary to make something amazing.

Braised Brisket makes Great Tacos | Porter Road ButcherMondayMeat n’ Three: pulled brisket, mashed potatoes, and your favorite summer sides (we love simply sliced tomatoes with a dash of salt, or pan-roasted sweet corn).

Tuesday#TacoTuesday: simple, easy, and fun. Let the kids build their own masterpieces or throw together a pan of nachos and let everyone dig in.

ThursdayBrisket Sandwiches: drizzle some spicy-sweet barbecue sauce on top, and serve it with a side of vinegar-based co’ slaw. And a beer. Or whatever.

Conveniently braised brisket is an ideal recipe for those of us that are constantly on-the-go or work nine-to-five jobs; there’s tons of oven time (aka waiting time), which means the active investment you put into cooking is extremely low. The return on that investment however is huge. There’s a giant amount of meat to gain—as well as saved time later in the week—which means less planning, shopping, stressing, and hating devising a dinner plan.

Chris dubbed this recipe “a cheating version” for slow-cooking brisket because of how stupid-easy it truly is, but what’s wrong with cheating every now and again? Sometimes it feels good to be bad

Chris’s [easy] Braised Beef Brisket

Method recommended for 5+ lbs. of meat

Salt & pepper or PRB BBQ rub*
1 qt. PRB beef stock
1 bottle of BBQ sauce**

  1. Preheat oven, grill, or smoker to 250o
  2. Season brisket liberally with either salt and pepper or PRB BBQ rub. Massage seasoning into meat.
  3. Place seasoned brisket on a roasting rack on top of a sheet pan. Put sheet pan on center rack of oven to roast for 3 hours. If using grill or smoker, place seasoned brisket directly on grate and roast for 3 hours.
  4. Remove brisket from oven, grill, or smoker.
  5. Transfer brisket into a 9 x 13 casserole dish (like a Pyrex). Cover with equal parts selected BBQ sauce and beef stock. Cover pan with aluminum foil and return to oven, on center rack, for 3 more hours at 250o
  6. Remove brisket from oven and let rest at least 45 minutes in braising liquid.
  7. Once brisket is cool enough to handle, slice, shred, or prepare as desired. Use throughout the week to make a variety of easy, delicious meals!

*PRB’s BBQ seasoning will give the meat some sweetness and the sugars will become caramelized, creating a nice crispy crust when you roast the brisket in the oven. You could even ask our butchers to season and vacuum seal the brisket so as to lock in those flavors and adhere the rub to the meat. For something simpler, go with a liberal salt & pepper rub.

**Choosing the right BBQ sauce is simply a matter of taste. Chris likes a little added sweetness with beef, so he goes with the Bluegrass Blueberry BBQ sauce. For a smokier flavor, try the Single Barrel Sauce Co.’s Smokey Green Tomato BBQ Sauce, and for something traditional, stick to Outta The Park’s Original sauce.

Braised Brisket Tacos | Porter Road Butcher

 

Brisket Tacos | Porter Road Butcher

Braising for Spring: The Lay of the Lamb

“Nose-to-tail” is a trend that has been on the rise in restaurants over the past few years, glorifying and celebrating chefs who utilize animals in their entirety and strive to leave little to no waste in their wake. As whole animal butchers however, nose-to-tail isn’t just some new craze; it isn’t something that we find chic, or fashionable, or on-trend with the latest food phenomenon. No, at an old school butcher shop like ours, nose-to-tail is simply how we operate; it’s what we do.

Lamb Stew Meat - Porter Road ButcherNot only is it our job to utilize each and every animal in their entirety—by making sausages, pâtés, lard, tallow, and stock—but it’s also our job to educate our customers to do the same with their cooking. There are only so many ribeye steaks in a cow or chops in a lamb, so what happens when we run out of those familiar celebrity meats? Well, we offer alternative cuts; we suggest a new method of preparation; and then we educate, explain, and give recipe suggestions. Generally when it’s all said and done we do utilize that whole entire animal in one way or another, but it is you the customer that helps us do that.

Even though spring seems to have officially sprung here in Nashville, and we are no longer fighting to #BraiseTheStorm as we were just two weeks ago, this upturn in the weather doesn’t mean we ought to completely eradicate that style of cooking: braising, that is. It’s too good! What seems like more of a cold-weather technique due to the thick, rich, and often times “heavy” dishes that braising can produce, this cooking technique in and of itself doesn’t necessitate coma-inducing meals.

Braising does, however, necessitate tougher cuts of meat, which more often than not are those that remain in the case during the warmer, grill-heavy seasons. Of course, these undercover meats most certainly aren’t inferior to or any lesser than the aforementioned celebrity meats, which are the first to sell; they’re simply unfamiliar, and therefore go un-asked for.

But did you know that tougher meat—meat that comes from well-developed and well-used muscles—is more flavorful than the rest? You see, as muscles work they build muscle fiber, become stronger and bigger, and additionally build connective tissue and collagen. So when you allow them to cook at a low temperature for a long period of time, these fibers, tissues, and collagens have the chance to break down and become tender, juicy, and gelatinous. That’s what gives braised dishes that rich, smooth, smacky and delicious mouth feel that we all love.

Even though braising meat is often associated with cold weather stick-to-your-ribs type of meals, it doesn’t have to be. Even at this time of year, there are still plenty of incredibly flavorful, and soon-to-be incredibly tender cuts of meat both to sell and eat.

So what do you do when it’s one week before Easter and you discover that we’ve already sold out of all the celebrity cuts of lamb by the time you think about placing your order? You smile at yourself and laugh. Because you know that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; you know that sometimes it tastes better to pick a working, supporting role. You may not feel fabulous because you picked a famous, paparazzi-crazed cut of meat, but you will feel smart, chic, and incredibly on trend with the latest and greatest nose-to-tail phenomenon.

Springtime Braised Lamb | Great for Easter! | Porter Road ButcherBraised Spring Lamb
Serves: 4

Active time: 45 mins.
Total time: 5 hrs.

1.5 lbs. lamb stew meat, 1” cubes
Freshly cracked salt & pepper
1 large onion, cut in quarters
1 bulb fennel, cut in quarters
1 bulb of garlic, cut in half
1 c. dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
¼ c. white wine vinegar
4 c. lamb stock (1 qt)
6 bay leaves
½ c. Mascarpone cheess
1 Tbs. lemon juice
¼ c. fresh tarragon, chopped
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
1 lb. pasta, like pappardelle
Optional: Parmesan

  1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
  2. Remove lamb from fridge and bring lamb to room temperature. Season all sides liberally with freshly ground salt and pepper. For a thicker sauce, dredge lamb pieces in flour after seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Melt bacon fat or lard (or grape seed oil) in pot, and once glistening add lamb. Brown on all sides until a golden or auburn brown crust appears (enacting the Maillard Reaction), then remove lamb from heat and set aside. Reserve drippings in pan.
  4. Add onion, fennel, and garlic to pot and cook until edges begin to crisp or turn golden. Deglaze pan with white wine and vinegar, and using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all those delicious brown bits, aka “the fond.”
  5. Return meat to pot with vegetables and wine, and add lamb stock and bay leaves. If you are using a Crockpot, at this point add all aforementioned ingredients to the Crockpot instead.
  6. Cover Dutch oven with a lid and put in the oven for 4-5 hours, depending on how hot or cold your oven runs. When you test the meat for doneness, it should be tender and shred easily, but still have somewhat of a chewy texture.
  7. Remove lamb from pot and set aside. Using a colander or mesh strainer, strain the leftover sauce into a large bowl, removing any vegetables and herbs that remain. Return sauce to pot. Over medium-high heat, allow the sauce to reduce by half.
  8. Meanwhile, fill a large stockpot with water and bring it to a rolling boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  9. Once the sauce has reduced, stir in mascarpone cheese and lemon. Add meat and bring it back up to temperature.
  10. Once meat is thoroughly heated, add peas and tarragon and heat for an additional 1-2 more minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  11. Serve over pasta. Optional: garnish with Parmesan, freshly chopped tarragon, or a squeeze of lemon.

Braised Springtime Lamb | Porter Road Butcher

Still want to learn more about braising? Have no clue what we mean by The Maillard Reaction? Eager to tweak a recipe you’d like to improve? Check out our guide:How_To_Braise

Peas and pasta not your thing? Perhaps you’re more of a parmesan cheese and polenta kind of person… Check out our Easter recipe from last year: Braised Lamb Neck Ragu. –>

Slow Food Fast

Almost every day, at around five or six o’clock, both the East and West shops receive what we fondly refer to as the after-work-pop. Moms and dads alike find their way inside our doors, eyes open wide, on the hunt for something fast, easy, and most of all delicious to feed their family for dinner. The good news is, we generally have something to offer them: sausages are easy to sear up in a cast-iron skillet and chicken breasts can quickly be browned on the stovetop to make a healthy chicken Caesar salad.

But the even better news? Now we have even better options. Cue the happy dance.

Do you remember back in the day when you depended on someone else to cook meals for you, and your only obligation was to arrive at the table with clean hands and an empty belly? You’d trudge home from a long day at school or an especially tough soccer practice and a cloud of warm, comforting, good smells greeted you as you opened the door. Mom stood over the stovetop, apron-clad and steadily stirring or chopping, and before you knew it you heard, “Wash your hands! Dinner’s ready!” as you bolted down the stairs. Step1 - Boil water and add...everything! Porter Road Butcher

Too bad that fairy tale is over. Welcome to the real world, where mom and dad are kinda busy: working from the crack of dawn to dusk, shuttling their kids to ballet practice and guitar lessons, squeezing in a 60-minute hot yoga class when possible, and somehow zipping through Trader Joe’s in under 20 seconds. Nowhere in that schedule are there five leftover hours that can be utilized for braising osso bucco on a Tuesday night.

But that’s where we come in; because it’s our job to braise osso bucco for 5 hours on a Tuesday. Or something like that…

As the holidays have come to a close and business has settled back to normal, we’re finding ourselves with time on our hands, which means time in the kitchen, and more products for sale in our market: dinner. So next time you’re in need of some quick, healthy, and hearty dinner items, swing by after work and check out our latest and greatest purchasable market item: Slow Food, Fast.

Slow Food Fast is our fresher, more natural, more delicious, very local (duh), and actually homemade answer to the Stouffer’s heat-n-eat style meals. And best of all? They require just one pot and water.

While of course variety and ease are two of the main draws to our Slow Food Fast, we think what makes it most desirable is the comfort that it provides.

  1. Comfort in knowing that what you’re eating lacks any preservatives, hasn’t been previously frozen, and is free from any partially-hydrogenated-this and GMO-laced-that. It’s good for you and for your family.
  2. Step 2 - drain water, dump package contents, mix. Porter Road ButcherComfort from being sure you seriously can’t screw it up. Since our Slow Food Fast has is already completely cooked, the only thing you have to do is warm it up and [potentially] serve it with something else: boil a pot of water, toss in your pasta, potatoes, grits, whatever, add your vac-sealed bag of deliciousness to the pot, and wait 10 minutes. Voila!
  3. And finally, comfort from eating good, homemade, comfort food, without the five-hour timeframe said food often requires. We take the time and work out of it, which makes the whole process much more comfortable for you.

Each package costs $10, serves 2 – 4 people (depending on how you serve it or how large of portions you eat) and generally requires just one pot. Hellooooo easy cleanup! Extra ingredients (like pasta, for example) will stretch out the servings, but what we’ve created is just as good on its own—how much work you want to put into it is totally up to you. Interested?

Here’s what we’ve got to offer so far:

Fiesta Braised Beef Shank – our slow braised osso bucco, plus onion, garlic, peppers, and a healthy dusting of our own PRB Fiesta Seasoning make this dish a perfect taco filling, topping for nachos, and would make a pretty mean cheese dip on Super Bowl Sunday…

Step 3 - Garnish (a little cheese never hurt), serve, and eat! Porter Road ButcherBeef Shank Ragout – braised osso bucco done the more traditional way: the trinity plus red wine, beef stock and tomato paste make this ragout stand out on its own, but some boiled potatoes or a bed of polenta would add some carbaliscious goodness if desired.

Citrus & Herb Chicken Ragout – a poultry twist on a classic beef or pork ragout, this chicken version makes an excellent, light pasta sauce.

Chili Base – we’ve done the hard part—browning the meat and simmering it down—so all you’ve got to do is add a can of beans and all your favorite toppings. Not a bean lover? Skip them and use our chili base as chili-dog topping, nacho goodness, or whatsoever your heart desires.

Meatballs & Marinara – our 100% beef meatballs are slowly braised for hours in marinara sauce, making them juicy, flavorful, and extremely hard to resist. You could throw together a meatball sub, or boil some spaghetti and pour yourself a glass of red wine. After creating a meal like that, you deserve it.

…and the ideas just keep on coming!

The next time you’re in the shop (either one!), check out our refrigerated section. And pick up some Slow Food Fast. You and your family will love you for it. BigPic copy   And check out one of our favorite little customers, Elizabeth, as she dives into some PRB Chili! Chili Starter - Ready to Simmer Down! Cooked, garnished, and looking good! Elizabeth loves PRB Chili!Oh Yeahhhh - good stuff.

Braised Lamb Neck Ragu with Parmesan Polenta

Isn’t it funny how every holiday has somehow ended up with a trademark meat? These meats have turned into the culinary mascots of each respective holiday, stamping themselves onto your brain and your memory, and even making their way into the doodles that mark calendar each and every year. Think about it: Thanksgiving has obviously laid claim to turkey; St. Paddy’s day is the day of corned beef and bratwurst; Fourth of July is notorious for grilling hamburgers and hot dogs; Christmas has somehow turned into a catch-all for meats, welcoming the likes of hams, turkeys, and beef tenderloins among others; and Valentine’s day welcomes chocolate. Okay, so not a meat.

While there is a lot of overlap in the meat-allegiances that certain people pledge on each different holiday–some people do hot chicken on Fourth of July; a few odd birds eat ham on Thanksgiving; and of course there’s the sausage vs. bacon battle that every family faces on Christmas morning–by and large Easter Sunday is a holiday that is associated and celebrated with just one telltale meat: lamb.

Many home cooks may stick to more familiar cuts of the lamb, like the shank, the leg, the chops, a shoulder, or even a rack of ribs, while the lamb neck remains a generally unchartered territory—but it is one that’s well worth exploring: super tender and incredibly flavorful.

Lamb Neck RaguAlthough it may seem a little daunting, this recipe for braised lamb neck is actually very simple and easy to execute, but it ends up tasting like something super fancy-pants. With the absence of heavy cream or starchy potatoes and the addition of a handful of fresh herbs, the dish isn’t very heavy overall and is perfectly enjoyable in [what will hopefully become] warmer spring temperatures. The cheesy polenta provides a wonderful, fluffy bed with which to soak up any run-away juices, but serving it over pasta would be a nice option as well. It’s a lovely, festive, and delicious dish to serve your family for Easter supper. Plus, you’ve got that trademark meat to make the holiday complete.

Braised Lamb Neck Ragu

Serves: 6-8
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

1 lamb neck from Porter Road Butcher
Salt & Pepper
Bacon fat or Grapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped medium
1 bulb fennel, chopped medium
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 cup red wine
2 14.5 oz cans organic roasted tomatoes
1 quart Porter Road Butcher stock (lamb, beef or chicken; not pork)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs: parsley, rosemary, or oregano

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Season lamb neck liberally with freshly ground salt and pepper on all sides, covering the entire neck. On the stovetop, heat a heavy-bottomed pot (like a Le Creuset) over medium heat.
  3. Add enough bacon grease or grapeseed oil to come to just 1/2 centimeter up the side of the heavy pot. Open windows and doors. Add lamb neck and sear heavily on all sides, about 10 minutes, getting a nice crust around the entire neck. It may get a little smokey–but that ain’t a ba-a-a-a-ad thing 😉  Remove neck and set aside.
  4. Add onion and fennel to the pot, tossing to coat in remaining oil and seasoning. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add neck back to the pot along with both cans of roasted tomatoes and quart of PRB stock. There should be enough liquid to almost completely submerge the neck, but if some of it is still sticking out, that’s okay.
  6. Put a top on the pot and put it in the oven, on a middle rack, for 3 hours. Begin to enjoy the heavenly aromas. If part of the neck isn’t completely submerged, check it after 1.5 hours, turning the neck over so that it will cook evenly.
  7. After three hours, check the meat to see if it is fork tender. If it is not, return it to the oven for another 30 minutes. When tender, remove pot from the oven. With two forks, begin to pull the meat off the bones, shredding it apart. Note: this should be easy. If it isn’t, the meat is likely not done and needs another 30 minutes or so. Remove bone from pot and discard, or set aside and marvel at the neck vertebrae
  8. With a wooden spoon, stir the ragu mixture, breaking up the larger pieces of meat into smaller ones, so it thickens into a meaty, tomatoey, stew-like consistency. If there is too much liquid, allow it to simmer over medium heat until some of the liquid cooks out.
  9. Just before serving, add fresh herbs and stir. Allow to simmer for five minutes.
  10. Serve over Padano Polenta and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Grana Padano Polenta

1/2 onion, small dice
2 tablespoon bacon grease or grapeseed oil
1 quart PRB pork stock
2 cup polenta or cornmeal
4-6 ounces Grana Padano cheese from The Bloomy Rind

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add bacon grease and allow to melt.
  2. Add onion and sweat in bacon grease for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add 1 quart pork stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Whisk in 2 cups polenta or cornmeal; stir well.
  5. Turn down the heat to a simmer and allow polenta to cook for another 20-25 minutes, until no liquid remains.
  6. Finish with finely shredded Grana Padano cheese; stir to combine.

 

Serve your Braised Lamb Neck Ragu and Grana Padano Polenta alongside your favorite green salad, or with a side of roasted vegetables. We roasted brussels sprouts, fennel, and onion under the broiler with just some grapeseed oil, salt and pepper – Yum!

Photos by Kren Teren

Photos by Kren Teren