I was so waiting for a chance to share this one with you guys! This was one of the first handful of GW2-inspired dishes I cooked up a few years back, and one of the first times I intentionally used the Guild’s recipe list as a source of information and inspiration. Well, it seems, the time to pull this one out of my hat has come! Finding myself flat on my back with a nasty case of the flu brought back vivid memories of a very similar situation a few years back, when this recipe came to life for the first time.
Since I was preoccupied with putting Rudolf’s nose to shame with my own at the time, my kitchen-related energy and drive had, of course, hit rock bottom. After a few days of yuck I got really tired of bland instant soups and overpriced – considering my tastebuds weren’t doing their jobs anyways – takeout food, though. I really needed something warm and hearty, healthy feel-good comfort-food, something with enough ooomph to break through the ick and have an impact on my tastebuds – and all of that had to, preferably, cook itsself while I slept some more.
Having bought a wonderfully juicy looking slab of beef brisket the day before the flu hit, I scanned the Guild’s menu for non-fuss ideas and got stuck on this:
A warm and hearty beef stew with a bunch of different, winter’y roots seemed like the perfect thing to pick up the fight against the flu~! I admit, I wasn’t sure how the brisket would turn out in a stew, never having consciously eaten it outside of it’s usual Low & Slow/BBQ box. As usual when something like that happens, using a cut of meat outside it’s familiar context, I made a bit of a not all-that-fussy fuss prior to cooking it, I gave the brisket the special brine treatment for about 26 hours. I’m not sure whether the brine or the tenderizing agents in the curry spices did the trick, but this piece of brisket turned out wonderfully tender, juicy and just perfect in a comfortingly steaming bowl of stew.
These amounts will net you 2-3 generous servings of yum, 4 if you serve it with rice or a similar starch’y side.
400g Beef Brisket, cleaned and trimmed
6% Salt-Water Brine
4 Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 Cinnamon Stick, broken in halves
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
2 Lime Leaves
2 Star Anise
I’ve mentioned this before, but since it’s been a while, here’s the why of the brine: brining meat before marinading and cooking it is a wonderful and easy way to enhance and seal in flavors, it’s own or ones added by a marinade – which gets to soak in much deeper if the meat has been brined prior to being marinated – and moisture content while also giving the texture of the meat a major boost in the tenderness-department.
1) First off, pick a container that holds your piece of brisket comfortably with some room to spare. Place the meat inside and add enough water to cover it completely. Fish out the meat again, measure the amount of water and calculate the amount of salt you’ll need for a 6% brine.
2) Move the water into a large pot, add the salt and bring the lot to a gentle simmer. Stir from time to time to help the salt along it’s dissolving-action.
3) Add the spices once the salt has dissolved and take the pot off the heat. Set it aside and leave the brine to cool off completely.
4) Place the brisket in the container you’ve previously picked and pour the brine on top, spices and all. Make sure the meat is completely submerged. In case you’ve lost some of the water somewhere along the way, measure the amount of water you’ll need to cover the meat up again and adjust the salt content accordingly.
5) Cover the container with a lid or a layer of clingfilm and place it in the fridge once you’re happy with the results.
6) Leave the brisket to its bath in the brine for at least 8-12 hours – over night and then some for even better results. If you’re using this method as a way to prime the meat for a marinade, try to keep it in the brine for around 6 hours, to give your meat a decent boost while not extending prep times to unreasonable lengths.
The Spicy Beef & Fennel Curry
1 large Fennel Bulb, finely sliced – keep the greens peeking out of it’s center for later
2 Carrots, finely diced
1 small Parsnip, finely diced
1 Red Onion, finely sliced
1 Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
400g brined Beef Brisket – see above – cut into 2 cm cubes
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
200ml low fat Coconut Milk
400ml Beef Stock
1 Tbsp plain Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp mild Curry Powder
2 Tsp mild Curry Powder – this is no mistake on my part or visual backflip on yours! just different amounts of the same spice, used at different points in the process
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Tsp ground Cumin
1 Tsp ground Ginger
1 Tsp ground Coriander Seeds
1 Tsp dried hot Chilli Flakes
¼ Tsp gound Cinnamon
¼ Tsp ground Fennel Seeds
1 tightly tied teabag holding the following:
1 Lime Leaf
1 Star Anise
½ Cinnamon Stick
3 Cardamom Pods
If you don’t have a reusable teabag, disposable teafilter or square of musselin to trap the spices in at hand, just add them to your pot and hunt them down before serving the stew – using teabags is just a very convenient way to make sure no whole spices escape your notice and end up giving someone a spicy overdose.
1) Release your brisket from it’s briny prison and pat it dry with a paper towel before cutting it into 2cm cubes.
2) Pick up a small bowl and thoroughly blend the flour into the 2 tbsp of curry powder.
3) Spread out the beef cubes on a large tray lined with baking parchment. Generously dust the cubes with the curry powder-flour mix. Make sure all of the cubes are evenly curried on all sides before covering them with a layer of clingfilm and setting the tray aside for about an hour.
4) Set a large, heavy-based pan onto high heat. Cover it with a lid and give it around 3-4 mins to fire up.
5) Once it’s at its maximum temperature, add 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil, and pop in the beef cubes in order to give them a nice golden-brown and crispy sear on all sides within the next 3-4 mins. Keep flipping them while they’re in the pan to keep them from sticking to the pan, loosing their spicy exterior to the heat in the process.
6) Once the cubes are evenly seared, tip them out onto a bowl. Add 2-3 tbsp of stock to the pan to deglaze it and use a wooden spoon to loosen all those roasting flavors sticking to the bottom of the pan. I leave the distinction between “roasted” and “burned” in your capable hands~
7) Add the spicy liquid to the cubes in their bowl and replace the pan with a large pot on the stove, turning the heat down to medium.
8) Add the stock and the teabag, bring the beef’y tea to a gentle simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low, add the cubes and leave the lot to simmer for 1 hour.
9) Once that’s done, have the finely sliced veggies join the beef for 12-15 mins until they’re deliciously tender.
10) Carefully stir the spice mix into the stew along with the coconut milk and a generous pinch of salt until both are well incorporated into the mix.
11) Have a taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, curry, coconut milk or, to lighten it up a little, a splash of lime juice.
12) Once you’re completely satisfied with the stews balance between spicy kick and coconutt’y comfort, top it off with a bunch of fennel greens or fresh coriander and serve it with a pile of rice, potatoes or just as it is – steaming hot, comforting and just right to get rid of the flu – or to keep it away in the first place!
By the way, this one has a follow-up coming your way next sunday! If you’ve got leftovers, pack them into zip-lock-baggies and keep them in easy reach in your freezer. If possible, try to use the baggie to shape individual portions the size of anything between golfball- to walnut-size. Not that easy with the chunky stuff, but it doesn’t have to be perfect in any case.