Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A slightly obsessive Andante Dairy moment (plus Brisket!)

Okay, so here's the thing. On her website, Soyoung Scanlan of Andante Dairy says, "The consumers who prefer strong cheese may prefer it even older."

Duh.

I mean, who could possibly NOT want strong cheese?

So we're having an obsession with Andante cheeses at the moment -- but fear not, events are in motion that may bring us into an obsessive Cowgirl Creamery moment soon.

But anyhow, we bought a Metronome today. It's a cow and goat milk cheese from Andante that promises to be a toothsome little chunk. Scanlan compares it to Pouligny-Saint-Pierre from the Loire Valley in France.

Okay. We're in. It's another stop on the continuing Cheese Adventure.

Actually what we'd really like to build to is a situation where we have so many potentially goopy, runny cheeses in varying stages of ripeness in our home that we won't ever have to be without "strong cheese" at any point in the foreseeable future.

So another hostage goes into the rotter of our fridge. Stay tuned for developments.

In the mean time, we also made a super yummy Beer-Braised Beef Brisket. It's an all day cook-a-thon type dish (Although the prep is not very hard), but it's all well worth the effort.

Braised Beef Brisket

4 strips of thick sliced bacon cut into 1 inch pieces (or if you're like us and save bacon drippings for use with baking, you can just use a few tablespoons of that.)

1 2.5-3.0 lb. beef brisket trimmed and seasoned with pepper (Go big -- you won't be sorry!)

3 cups chopped onions
1.5 cups diced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp. minced garlic

12 sprigs parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp black peppercorns

1 can (14 oz) beef broth
1 bottle stout beer (Big Bear Black Stout worked REALLY well, and as you can see from the photo, we got enough so there were leftovers to have with dinner.)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp AP flour
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F

Crisp the bacon in a large 16 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Remove bacon leaving the drippings. in the pot and increase heat to medium high.

Brown both sides of the brisket in the drippings about 5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

Deglaze the pot with onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook 3 minutes.

Stir in parsley, thyme, bay and peppercorns. Return the beef to the pot.

Add the broth and beer to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven and braise 1-1/2 hours. After five minutes, check the pot and just make sure that you have little simmer bubbles in the liquid -- if it's bubbling too much or if it's not bubbling at all, adjust the heat accordingly.

Turn the beef over and braise an additional 1-1/2 hours or until fork tender.

Remove the meat from the broth and keep warm. Strain the broth into a saucepan, discarding solids. Bring broth to a boil.

Stir in vinegar and tomato paste. Combine butter and flour into a beurre manie (you can smush the flour and butter together with your fingers), then whisk the beurre into the broth a teaspoon at a time until it thickens and looks glossy. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.

We served it with smashed Yukon Golds and it was lovely comfort food. Plus there are tons of leftovers, which of course, always taste better the next day!