Monday, March 01, 2021

Sunday Dinner

      Monday last, the corner grocer had some nice-looking beef brisket, and the price looked nice, too; I bought one and stashed it in the freezer for later.

      The week had warm days here and there, but the snow was late going away.  Along about Wednesday, I grilled a couple of steaks by turning the grill so I could stand on the sidewalk, and not in a small snowdrift.

     By Sunday, several bouts of rain had washed all but a few grim chunks of gray ice away. Saturday, I'd moved the brisket to the refrigerator to thaw.  So I made my weekly grocery trip early and picked up a few extras.

      I got the closed-top grill started while the brisket sat out (but away from the cats!) with salt, pepper and some Japanese fish sauce on it -- no, it's not actually fishy-tasting; aged in whiskey barrels, it's distantly akin to Worcestershire sauce but milder and mellower, with plenty of umami.  It's one of the closer approximations you can find to the old Roman garum (and priced like it, too) -- and I should have used more.

      Be that as it may, I got the grill arranged, loaded the brisket into my graniteware roasting pan (fat side down, with a strip of bacon on top), and ignored it got about an hour and a half, while I made up a vegetable mix:
      One large apple, peeled and cut in twelfths (a "Cosmic Crisp," which Tam and I sampled -- really tasty!)
      One large turnip, treated likewise (We did not sample it; raw turnips are interesting but not as tempting.)
      A couple of small Russet potatoes, cut in sixths
     A large onion, very coarsely chopped
      Ten small, peeled carrot sections -- the stuff sold in bags.  It's handy, easier to keep, and tastes the same.
      A couple of large stalks of celery, cut in about half-inch sections
     Four cherry tomatoes -- these look like miniature Romas.
      That all goes in a bowl with some more fish sauce over it.
     I loaded up small bowl with a dozen fresh mushrooms, left whole, halved or quartered depending on size --- you want them about bite-sized.

      At some point in this prep, it started to drizzle, so I improvised a "rain hood" for the grill from a couple of sheets of aluminum foil, crimped together to make one double-wide sheet, bent into an inverted U with the ends crimped between the lid and body of the grill and leaving several inches of clearance over the vent at the top of the grill.

      At about the ninety-minute mark, I opened up the grill and roasting pan, packed the apple and vegetables in closed it all back up.  Smelled pretty good already!

      A half-hour later, I added the mushrooms and had a look at the pan -- I guessed another thirty minutes would be sufficient.

      I guessed right.  Carried it inside and found the vegetables were soft and fragrant and the meat was nicely done.  I spooned most of the veggies into a bowl, let the brisket rest a bit and then sliced it.  Served with the pan juices -- and there were plenty -- it made a fine meal.

      Lessons learned:
     - The brisket was a little more chewy than I prefer.  I probably should have marinated it for a few hours before cooking, maybe in a mixture of fish sauce and balsamic vinegar.
      - Fat down is the way to go on my grill.  Fat side up, the meat gets overdone on the bottom.
      - The apple worked out really well.  I was tempted to throw in a handful of raisins and some olives, too.
      - A bay leaf would not have hurt.  Neither would a little garlic.
      - I had been avoiding the fish sauce.  Tam bought it awhile back and I was concerned it would be too fishy or too overwhelming to use in cooking.  It's great stuff!  I should have tried it earlier.

No comments: