Dina Cheney's Slow-Cooker Brisket with Pomegranate, Red Wine, and Caramelized Onions
Connecticut author Dina Cheney is a cooking teacher and writer who pens a monthly column for Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. She’s also a busy working mom who knows what a challenge it can be to get a good homemade dinner on the table every night.
Fortunately, she applied her cooking chops to solving this problem and I’m delighted to have an advance copy of her new book Year-Round Slow Cooker: 100 Favorite Recipes for Every Season. My own slow cooker spends too much time gathering dust in a cupboard when I know it could free me up to spend more time playing with my son and less time prepping after work. So I can’t wait to start cooking from her book. Meanwhile, she offered to share her recipe for slow-cooker brisket with pomegranate, red wine, and caramelized onions with Yankee’s readers. This slow-cooker brisket is a bit more time-consuming than other dishes in the book (her Chicken with Lime, Honey, and Soy takes just 30 minutes to prep), but I think it does a nice job of illustrating how versatile slow cooker meals can be. This definitely isn’t your mother’s crock pot!
Slow-Cooker Brisket with Pomegranate, Red Wine and Caramelized Onions
■ Prep time: About 1 hour ■ Slow cooker time: About 8 hours
Note: Pomegranate molasses and seeds add seasonal flair and a fresh, sweet-tart taste to this brisket, ideal for the Jewish holidays and other special occasions. Prepare this dish a day or two in advance to allow the flavors to meld and the meat to become more tender and flavorful. Pomegranate molasses is available at many gourmet grocers and at Mideastern markets.
Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Brisket:
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 8 grinds black pepper
- One 3-pound beef brisket
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 red onions, halved and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick rings
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 cup red wine, such as Zinfandel
- One 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
- 1⁄2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1⁄4 cup fresh-squeezed, strained orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds, at room temperature, for garnish
Method for Slow-Cooker Brisket
1. Put 1⁄4 cup of the pomegranate molasses, the mustard, garlic, coriander, salt, and pepper in the slow cooker and use a wooden spoon to mix well. Add the meat and turn to coat with the mixture (use your fingers to smear the mixture all over the meat).
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, limp, and sweet, about 20 minutes (discard any strips of red onion skin that separate from the flesh). Pour the onions on top of the meat.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, plus the tomato paste and flour to the pan. Stir until no white flour is visible, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the wine; return the pan to the heat, raise the heat to high, and simmer for about 2 minutes, whisking into a smooth, thick sauce. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, the tomatoes with juices, stock, orange juice, and honey, and use a potato masher to gently mash the tomatoes. Boil until smooth and relatively thick, about 4 minutes, then pour over the meat-onion mixture.
4. Cover and cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Carefully transfer the meat to a cutting board, and let rest for about 10 minutes. With a large shallow spoon or ladle, skim the fat off the top of the cooking juices. Cut the meat against the grain into roughly 1⁄3-inch-thick slices, mix it back into the sauce, and serve, garnished with the pomegranate seeds.
Spotlight on Pomegranates
Pomegranates are large, hard, pink or red round fruits. You only eat their arils, pulp-encased seeds that resemble rubies and boast a sweet-tart berry flavor.
To remove the arils, halve the pomegranate horizontally, place it in a large water-filled bowl, and pull the arils out from the bitter white membranes. You can also thwack the backside of each half with your fist to knock out some arils; these will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or purchase already-removed arils, which I find to be worth the extra price. Follow the use-by date on the package for freshness.
If you buy whole pomegranates, look for heavy, firm, brightly colored fruits. Store them in the fridge for up to 2 months or in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.