BEEF BRISKET CHILI (with beans)
* special equipment needed – slow cooker
1 1/2 – 2 lb. beef brisket, all fat removed or
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 beer, preferrably a dark brew
(1) 14. oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. Worchestshire sauce
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper (if you really want heat plus the hip
factor, add some smashed canned chipotle
peppers from a small can)
Coarse grain salt to
Black pepper to taste
3 cans of beans – white, kidney, chili, black, or pinto – drained
Optional: 1 jar of artichoke hearts in
My husband won’t let me add but I
love to: corn, especially when I use black
What completes this: cooked elbow
macaroni or cavatappi pasta, biscuits, a huge baked potato, or French bread
Brown brisket in olive oil on both sides over
medium-high heat. When browned, put brisket into
Into the pan the brisket was
browned in, add onions, sautee until softened.
Add beer, tomato sauce, brown sugar,
Worchestshire sauce, mustard powder, bay leaf,
cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Carefully pour over brisket in slow
cooker and put on low setting for approximately
six hours. If liquid level gets low, add some
beef broth or chicken broth to slow cooker during cooking.
When done, add drained beans and artichoke
Garnish with grated cheese of your
liking, or crumbled goat cheese, sour cream (in
which case the goat cheese is superfluous),
diced red or green onions, chives, parsley.
I dig this over a potato or with the cavatappi pasta.
Okay, so, the chili.
All 5 people in my house freaked for it. This
makes plenty of leftovers. The brisket pulled
apart so easily, the flavor of the chili was
sweet, the beans kept their shape and added a
creamy factor, I paired it with whole wheat
rotini, and the toppings made it personalize-able for everyone.
Here is a breakdown of how we take our
Child #1: Alex: sour cream and many Tabasco
Child #2: as much sour cream as she can get away with
Child #3: with grated cheese
Hubby: yellow mustard, half a bottle of Tabasco
Me: 1/2 cup at a time, still doing this portion
control thing, and yellow mustard, plus few Tabasco
Here is what I will do differently next time,
but please, please try this chili, people. Let
it slow cook and fill the house with meaty,
tomato-y aromas during a football game on
Sunday. It is honestly healthy and pleases everyone.
The night before (I forgot to mention that I did
this): marinate brisket in tomato paste, 1/2
cup Worchestshire, brown sugar in a Ziploc bag. Work in the marinade well.
Change out the artichoke hearts for diced potatoes, if you want. Or neither.
I didn’t use an onion after all!
Instead of beer, beef broth or stock can be (and
was) substituted. Seems I drank all my IPA.
I am specifically stating chili beans and white beans.
Toppings bar…sour cream…pita
chips…chopped red onions…chopped green
onions…grated all kinds of
potatoes…roasted garlic…crumbled goat
cheese…french fried onions…chopped bell
…just to give you and idea of how you can run
away with something, make people happy, and be
terribly satisfied, even if your team doesn’t win.
I have never really been into chili. When I
worked at Sea World, we had Chili Cook-Offs and
the San Diego Padres would send players to be
judges. That was interesting, but I never tried
the chili. It’s when I bought this brisket a
couple of weeks ago that I was hoping to make 3
meals out of it, stretch my dollar, that brisket
chili crept into my mind. One package of meat, a few cans of beans and tomato sauce, a package of
pasta and if you do your shopping right, chili is a great budget meal.
Or you can play it up for a party, and watch a
great budget meal become an annual event your friends hope they get invited to.
|OUT OF THE SLOW COOKER, INTO THE FIRE
Come Tuesday night I won’t be home making
dinner, helping with homework, preparing for the
next day like usual because I am actually doing
something I never do – going out to Taco Tuesdays with some friends.
I never do this because somewhere in suburbia,
sometime during my experience in this idyllic
community, I became a person who likes to play
hide and seek, but not get found. Years of being
friends with women – and all the stuff that
comes with having women as friends – has sent
me into a Gollum-like seclusion, coveting
self-preservation like Smeagol coveted his Precious ring.
It’s not that people have been unkind to me or
my family. My neighbors and friends are
forthcoming; there is a good deal of involvement
in community sports and schools. We live among
other people with interests and histories
similar to ours, and have made friends with many of them.
But. Within these community organizations, at
school functions, I can not help but notice
little things that become bigger things in my
overly-analytical mind. Without trying, I pick
up nuances and dynamics, which to me are more
telling than gossip or here say.
Getting-to-know-you systemizations that I
willingly participated in, I now believe, take
one additional sentence or question to become
socially disastrous for some of us. And silly
me, I got attached to certain families, who less
than one year ago sat at my dinner table, our
kids jointly destroying my home, but now are
separated and living apart, jointly sharing custody of their kids.
Things aren’t always what they appear to be and
that scares me…in a primal, selfish, but mostly maternal way.
Going to Taco Tuesday with friends, though, it’s
tempting for the pack animal buried within me. I
usually repress my pack animal instincts for the greater good of our collective family character. But one evening out with a group of female friends doesn’t mean I have to
morph into a character from [fill in television
melodrama]. I know how to be me by now. I don’t
have to give any juicy details of my relatively
normal life away. I have become a master
segue-er, clever conversationalist, and polite
answer decliner. Fortunately, the people I
attract of late seem to be content to keep their
minor pseudo-scandals and
we-all-have-them-secrets behind their picket
fences, just like me. (I don’t have a picket
fence though, to be accurate, just a wisteria
that thinks it’s a wooden structure).
At Taco Tuesday with my friends I can balance
the knowledge of what I’ve learned and what I
have yet to learn. I can admit freely that I
once naively believed everything signed on a
dotted line was forever. Marriages, mortgages,
the safety net of good intentions.
I’m careful of the promises I make – and keep -
because while the diamond may be the hardest
substance on Earth, it represents things that crumble all too easily.
So, while the cynic in me says I should shy away
from all social invitations, I’m thinking instead of
a shredded beef taco with pico de gallo and a
margarita on the rocks, not blended, while my
family at home eats the hearty, reliable chili I
made for them in the slow cooker before I ventured out into the fire.
After all, this is suburbia. What could go wrong?
I understand now why some meals stay, and others
go. As a Mom, trying to save as much money and
time as possible, certain meals and mainstays of
Americana make sense to me: Meatloaf. Roasted
chicken. Tomato sauce. Casseroles. It’s
comforting when your family smiles as their
bellies fill, but it’s also nice to leave the
market as the victor against high prices,
corporate chains and the squeeze of hard times.
We’re all hurting on one way or another, so our wits become refined.
Let me get you some chili (how do you take it?)
while I give you a rough breakdown of how to beat the high cost of cooking…
Brisket*: $6 on sale
2 cans of beans: .99 each, $1.98 total
1 package of rotini: $1.00
1 can tomato paste: .63
Canned tomatoes: $2
Sour cream: $2.50
…everything else, the sugar, spices,
Worchestshire, toppings, I had in my pantry
It comes to under $15. Divided by 5 people, that
is about $3 a person for dinner, not including
How good does that taste going down?
* Note: I bought a 5 pound brisket for $17 and
change, using approximately 1/3 of it for the brisket chili.