There are times in the South when it’s just too dang hot to grill outside. At least for me. When it’s 97 degrees outside but feels like 107 (how do they know?) I retreat off the deck. I’m a weenie and I’ll admit it.
So lately I’ve taken to braising because all you do is put some meat in a dish, cover it with liquid, stick it in the oven and let it cook for three or four hours. During which time you can sit on the deck and enjoy a cocktail because everyone knows if you consume alcohol in the heat it will cool you right off. It’s why elegant elderly women in Charleston can always be seen sipping ice cold gin on the veranda during the height of summer. Note to self. I need to consider moving to Charleston in a few years.
What you want for a good braise is a cut that is tough and requires a long and gentle cook. Think short ribs or lamb shanks or that inelegant old standby, chuck roast. The method is almost always the same. You can brown the meat before you put it in the dish or not. I’ve heard arguments both ways. Then you just cover it with a tasty liquid and some aromatic vegetables and cook the hell out of it. When you’re done, if you feel energetic enough you can get out the food processor, dump the liquid and veggies in there and puree it. Or do what I do. Go to your Whole Foods and buy demi glace, which you would be a fool to try to produce because it takes about seven days. Just kidding. But it does take hours and hours and I don’t have that kind of time.
2 large onions
1 4 pound beef brisket
1 jar chili sauce
4 cups beef stock or enough to almost cover brisket
1 container Demi Glace Gold from beef and veal
Slice onions into medium to thin slices. Put brisket in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Top the meat with the onions. Pour chili sauce over the onions. Add enough beef stock to almost cover the brisket. Bake in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about four hours. The meat is done when it is literally falling apart.
Remove meat to a platter and pour liquid into a saucepan. Add demi glace and reduce by about half to produce a sauce for the brisket. If the sauce isn’t think enough, add a little cornstarch dissolved in cold water to thicken it.