I’m a sucker for sexy food porn, so when I was leafing through the latest edition of a food magazine who’s name I won’t mention, I saw this picture of a mouth watering, seductive slab of succulently juicy beef with sauce running all across the cutting board in a sloppy yet seductive way. The messy knife beside it was wet with delicious juices and I was left dreaming of how absolutely delicious the brisket would taste.
The next day I ran out and bought a slab of beef brisket and the rest of the ingredients, or at least, most of the ingredients. The recipe list was extra long and some of the ingredients I felt were cost prohibitive. For example, would you buy an entire bottle of bourbon to use 4 tablespoons in a recipe?
I would have substituted the stout for a regular beer if I didn’t just happen to have a bottle of Wellington Imperial Russian Stout in my refrigerator. I still have fresh thyme in my garden so I guess I was good to go.
The next day I settled into the kitchen. I seared the beef brisket nicely and pour in the rest of the ingredients from ale to whisky to herbs and brown sugar. It simmered for the exact 4 and a half hours. Next I removed the brisket to a cutting board and reduced the sauce to a lusciously thick liquid. All was all looking good, I decided not to glaze the brisket with jam (I’m not a fan of sweet meat) but I did broil it with a thick basting of the silky sauce. I let the brisket sit on the cutting board and then began to slice it.
Whoa, wait a minute. Inside my brisket was an unattractive gray color, not at all like the picture in the magazine of a pinkish juicy slices of meat. I tasted the sauce and while very robust, it was not as delicious as it looked. I just hate it when I’m duped by food porn.
February is the time of year for slow roasted meats like brisket and I was not going to be outdone by what could be a great dinner so I bought another brisket, did a bit of research, altered the recipe and tried again. I seared the brisket and added the remaining ingredients. I used a bottle of Niagara’s Best Blonde Premium Ale from Taps Brewery in Niagara Falls. It has a quarter of the robust power of the Wellington’s Russian stout but I wanted complimentary flavours not an overpowering flavour.
As I added the thyme, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar I grabbed the whisky from the cupboard over top of the fridge. What is it with liquor cupboards, why are they always difficult to get to when you’re in a hurray? I grabbed the bottle and poured out half a cup. It spilled over my fingers so I licked them – yum. I’m not a whisky drinker but I do enjoy the flavours and this one was smooth.
I reduced the sauce and put a bit into the blender with a dribble of fresh whisky. With the frothy concoction, I basted the brisket for broiling. While that was sizzling in the oven I was separating the sauce to remove any fat and that’s when I noticed it.
Licking my fingers again, the sauce was sublime! It was seductively rich, elegant, beefy with a hint of butterscotch, or was it vanilla. I sipped a spoonful and the velvety liquid luxuriated across my tongue with heavenly flavours. The brisket was sliced (ok, it was still grey but I brushed the slices with the sauce and they became a rich brown colour) and the sauce poured overtop. What a fantastic meal and all it took was a bit of adjusting to meet my kitchen conditions and taste buds.
What I discovered later was that the whisky I grabbed in my haste was a bottle of Forty Creek Whisky, but not the Barrel Select – it was the John’s Private Cask! It’s $70 a bottle! Believe me, it was a total mistake and I intended to use a lesser expensive whisky. In hindsight, I’m glad I made the mistake because the sauce was an unforgettable experience no doubt in large part because of the whisky.
Forty Creek Whisky is a local whisky (Ontario). John Hall is owner, winemaker and spirits master at Kittling Ridge Winery & Distillery in Grimsby. He is recognized internationally as one of the most talented whisky masters in the world and we’re so lucky to have him in Niagara. I owe him a huge apology for spilling his prized drink in my brisket sauce, but I have to say – it was so delicious, yea, I would do it again!
Click here for the recipe, http://on.fb.me/zgTZEZ