BEEF BRISKET BRAISED IN MEAD & CARAMELISED CAULIFLOWER
4 tbsp grapeseed oil
2kg beef brisket*, cleaned and trimmed
1 brown onion
1 head of garlic cut in half
1 stalk celery
500ml honey mead
1 tbsp black peppercorns
10 pieces of allspice
2 pieces star anise
1 stick cinnamon
½ bunch thyme
2 bay leaves
20 native pepper berries
2 litres chicken stock
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 pickled walnuts
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp butter
4 sprigs of thyme
salt to taste
SERVES FOUR - SIX
Preheat your oven to 140ºC.
Heat a heavy cast-iron 30-centimetre casserole dish.
Add two tablespoons of grapeseed oil and sear the piece of brisket on all sides. Once coloured, remove from the pot and set aside.
In the same pot maintain the heat and roughly chop all the vegetables and roast until well caramelised. Add the mead to the pot, using caution as the mead will steam and boil straight away.
Add all of the spices and herbs and reduce on a high heat for five minutes.
Place the brisket back in the pot and cover with the chicken stock. If necessary top up with water to ensure the meat is fully covered with liquid.
Bring to a simmer and cover the surface of the liquid with baking paper. Place a tight-fitting heavy lid on the casserole and transfer to the oven.
The brisket will take four to five hours to cook. When it is ready, it will be soft to touch but should still retain some fat and moisture. Let it cool down in the liquid for 30 minutes.
Strain off the stock from the casserole into another saucepan and reduce the stock by half – this will take about 20 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, two pickled walnuts and the Dijon mustard. Whisk to break apart the walnuts and season with salt if needed. The sauce will have a balance of richness, sweetness and sourness.
Cut the brisket into nice-sized portions (about 150 grams each) and return to the finished sauce to warm through. Gently warm the beef, taking care not to boil the sauce, as it may dry out the meat.
For the cauliflower, trim any green leaves from the base and, using a large sharp knife, slice the cauliflower into whole slices from the top to the base about two-centimetres thick. It should resemble a vertical cross-section profile of the vegetable.
Heat a heavy frying pan and add two tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cauliflower to the pan and cook on the stovetop until both sides are nicely coloured. Don’t have the pan too hot as it will burn the cauliflower.
Once you have caramelised the cauliflower, add the butter, thyme and salt, and finish cooking on a low heat. The cauliflower should retain its shape and be just tender in the centre of the base.
To serve, place the warm cauliflower in the centre of a plate. With a slotted spoon transfer the brisket to the plate, cut two slices of pickled walnut and place that on the dish, then spoon the warm sauce over the brisket.
* If you don't have brisket on hand, other secondary cuts can be used to replace the brisket. Chuck steak, for instance, is a worthy substitute.
Photo credit: Earl Carter for The Saturday Paper