Making food from scratch is one of those things that I take pride in. Pancakes? We have ‘em at least once a week, always from scratch. Biscuits? When I get the hankering I turn to a great recipe that I found on The Perfect Pantry. Cookies? Always from scratch. Macaroni and cheese? Usually from scratch.
But that said, I have a strong aversion to any recipe that strikes me as being fussy. Making puff pastry from scratch? Too fussy – I am happy to purchase the Artisan Puff Pastry from Trader Joe’s instead. Croissants? I would love to know how to make them, but I’ve read recipes for them dozens of times and it’s just too time consuming.
So, when it comes to the rare occasion when I pull out the trusty Crock-Pot, I expect that whatever I make will be easy and fast to pull together. Isn’t that the whole point of using it? I thought so.
This is all a very long lead in to saying that I really find the recipes in Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook to be way too fussy. I’ve tried several recipes from this book over the years. Every time, I find that they have too many steps. Brown in a frying pan, cook this, mix that … it’s stealing the ‘quick and easy’ from the whole Crock-Pot idea.
So, it was with great reluctance that I decided to make the Tangy Tomato Brisket recipe from this book (worst name ever — it’s more like a BBQ joint brisket). As usual, I prepped my mise en place and reread the recipe to find that there were way more steps than I wanted. That meant the brisket got into the pan later than I wanted and I had to adjust the heat and time to accommodate it …
But I wouldn’t be telling you about this recipe if it wasn’t good. And good it was. I loved it. The sauce was rich and spicy-sweet, like my favorite BBQ joint’s brisket. It was fork tender and tasted delightful with the onions …
It’s not for a busy mom on a work day – it cooks too fast (5-7 hours on low) and takes too much to pull together (prep time is roughly 30 minutes, maybe 40). But for a lazy Sunday? Perfect. And if you cook it just a little longer than you can shred it with two forks and serve it up on rolls … I bet a little cheddar would be good too.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 3- to 4- pound beef brisket
- 2 large onions, , cut in half and sliced thin
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp dry mustard
- 4 cloves garlic, , crushed
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt, , pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown the brisket for three minutes on each side then remove from skillet and set aside. Add the onions and cook until browned, stirring constantly. Beware smokiness -- you might need to keep a window open to keep the smoke detectors happy. Once the onions are done, remove from pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. Coat both sides of the brisket with the sauce then set on a plate.
- Add half of the onions to the slow-cooker. Then add the brisket. Top with the other half of the onions, and then the remainder of the sauce.
- The book says to cook on low for 5-7 hours. However, if you need to speed it up, cook on low for 4 hours and on high for 1 hour.
- Slice against the grain and serve with the sauce and onions ...
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.