In these cold and snowy times, it’s important for my being to experience hearty, bone-warming meals. Hearty doesn’t always have to equal super heavy or fattening, and I cook plenty of soul satisfying meals showcasing light and healthy ingredients. But you know how I feel- everything in moderation. Sometimes, my body just needs meat and potatoes. In this case, slow cooked brisket of beef with carrots, fingerling potatoes, and super nutrient rich kale. I made it with simple ingredients: rosemary, red wine, onions, garlic, and what I like to call “wor-chester”. I smelled it cooking all day long. : )
Incredibly minimalistic, right?
Generally, before I put any type of meat into my slow cooker, I sear it first. Searing meat in a hot dry pan, or using a little bit of fat, boosts the flavor and gives meat that “crust” on the outside that is so lovely to tear with our teeth. It sort of caramelizes the meat and is thought to help seal in its juices. I made sure that the brisket had reached room temperature before putting it in the pan to yield best results.
Then I just nestled that baby into my slow cooker with a large sprig of rosemary and a carrot just cut in half. I am a huge proponent of al dente vegetables. I like my veggies to have more than just some life left in them. I prefer them vibrant, not mushy. I find that if I add my veggies, cut into bite size pieces, to the slow cooker and let them go for 6 or 8 hours, they practically become baby food. So, I put in that one carrot to impart some of that sweet carrot-y goodness during the slow cooking journey.
To the hot pan, I added big slices of onion and then a bunch of minced garlic. I did turn the heat down some as well. Next, I poured a half cup of red wine (one of the last bottles of wine leftover from our wedding) into the pan, along with a good glug of “worchester” which just seems to add more richness and depth to the beef, and allowed it to reduce for a few minutes.
I tossed in a handful of grape tomatoes too, knowing that they would contribute some sweetness and sauciness to the dish. Then, I poured all of that lusciousness on top of the brisket.
Then I put on that lid and let the slow cooker work its magic.
After about four hours, I went ahead and added the fingerling potatoes, small and multi-colored, and another couple of carrots.
Another few hours of tantalizing smells wafting through the air, and it was time to prepare the kale. Kale is one of those super foods that I learned more about when doing research for a heart-healthy client. Dark, leafy greens are full of anti-oxidant powers, anti-inflammatory benefits, and cancer fighting nutrients. Kale actually helps to lower cholesterol and detoxify the body. This is a fabulous ingredient, not only for heart-healthy clients and those seeking to lose weight, but really, for all of us. Another plus is its peak harvest time – late fall and through the winter- when it can be difficult to find great looking veggies.
I cut out the ribs and chopped the kale into large ribbons.
A little bit of sweet onion and garlic set the stage for sauteing the greens. I didn’t use bacon or a hamhock or a smoked turkey leg- but you could if you wanted to add more smoky flavor. I wanted to keep it simple since it was being paired with all the slow cooked, savory meat, carrots and potatoes.
Kale wilts just like spinach, but requires a longer time to cook out some of its bitterness. So after the initial wilting , I added a bit of chicken stock, covered the pan, and let the kale become more subtle and tender.
Finally! Time to plate this slow cooked speciality!
The sweetness from the tomatoes, onions, and carrots beautifully complemented the savory, richness of the beef and the creaminess of the potatoes. The rosemary was not the least bit overpowering, but it provided a lovely undertone.
This meal would be a great one for those with lactose intolerance too. Gluten free folks could enjoy this meal, as long as the ingredients on the chicken broth comply. Mine was gluten free. It even works for people keeping Kosher. No mixing of meat and dairy happening here. Nice! Meat and potatoes comes through as a workable meal for many!
Slow cooker recipes aren’t only perfect for the weekend. New fangled slow cookers have timers that allow you to program your start and end time. You can actually prepare the pot before bed, leave it in the fridge overnight, and then set it up to cook while you are away at work. The magic that happens while you are away is sure to bring a smile to your face.
I hope that on this snowy day, you are staying warm and nourishing your body with something warm and delicious. Get creative with your slow cooker, and let it do the work for you.