Brisket? What’s brisket doing on HealthyNoms? True, red meat is not the healthiest of choices and brisket is certainly not the leanest of cuts, but occasionally, the tummy wants what it wants! Such was the case when we found a recipe for brisket in one of our “lean and green” cookbooks: suddenly, our tummies wanted brisket — especially after our seven-day meat free challenge!
Strictly speaking, most beef choices fall into the “lean” category of the program, meaning we can can have five ounces cooked weight, and no additional fats* in the meal. Of course, the leaner the cut (or grind), the better. Since brisket can be a pretty fatty cut of meat, it’s best to work with the butcher behind the counter to find a brisket with the least amount of visible fat, and then have the fat cap trimmed off. Yes, this is counterintuitive to the conventional preparations of brisket, and you may get a funny look, but do it anyway.
*Note: the addition of the puréed cauliflower as described below violates the no-added-fat rule for this dinner. We decided to proceed anyway, since the pairing seemed apt. This is not a precise science, after all, it’s about overall balance. But I digress.
We took our 3.5#, trimmed-of-all-visible fat brisket and rubbed it with a barbecue spice rub and some chipotle and wrapped it tightly in plastic and left it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, bright and early — to allow 10-12 hours cook time — we pulled out the crock-pot and lined it with a slow-cooker liner.
Fabulous invention, by the way, those liners. You must try them if you haven’t already — no messy cleanup!
Into the lined crockpot we placed three large celery stalks, to create a sort of grill surface. Over the celery, we poured a bottle of Rogue Chipotle Ale, then nestled the brisket atop the celery, covered the pot and set it on low. About 10 hours later, the meat was tender and ready to serve — be sure to let it rest for five – ten minutes before slicing against the grain. (Discard the beer and celery.) The long, slow cooking time and the moisture from the beer offset the loss of the fat cap and keeps the brisket from drying out.
Puréed Cauliflower (a mashed-potato surrogate):
- One head of cauliflower (about 6-8c)
- 2 tbs fat-free cream cheese
- 4 tbs Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
- Optional seasonings, to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
- Chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
- Salt & pepper to taste
Cook the cauliflower until tender, drain and dry. (One way to dry the cooked cauliflower is to place a clean dish towel in the pot and return the cauliflower so the towel absorbs the extra liquid.)
With the cooked and dry cauliflower back in the pot, add the remaining ingredients and use a potato masher or an immersion blender to mash/purée until it reaches the desired texture. (This is where the stock comes into play — add in 1 tsp increments as needed.)
We added some thinly sliced bulbs from a bunch of green onions and then garnished with the tops. On subsequent preparations, we’ve experimented with strained Greek yogurt in place of the cream cheese, and adding horseradish. All good.
About 1/4 of this batch is one serving.
Note: this meal prepared as described yields a little more than two full meals for two — one for the first night and one for another night. It would serve a party of four nicely. Would make a great choice for entertaining friends who are not on program — wouldn’t seem at all like a “diet” meal.
It’s nice to know we can prepare one of the “national dishes” of Texas in a way that works on our program! Even so, this will be a very occasional indulgence.