Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Floyd Cardoz's Brisket

After six months of moving, we finally had my aunt and cousins over for a meal yesterday. We've gone from living in the same neighbourhood and seeing each other every couple of days, to seeing each other once in a blue moon for family occasions. To mark their first visit to our new place in Toronto, I decided to try my hand at making an Indian-inspired brisket from chef Floyd Cardoz's One Spice, Two Spice recipe book. Cardoz, like me, is a former Bombay resident and Top Chef Masters 2011 winner. Intrigued by his cooking style, I  picked up the book from the library and was hoping for a chance to make the brisket for a crowd. 

Which brings me to another highlight of the past week. We finally had a Loblaws open just 15 minutes away from where we live, making grocery shopping a whole lot easier. It used to be a real cumbersome exercise picking up bits and bobs from five different stores. Now with the cold settling in, being able to get all ingredients in one spot is a real blessing. So freshly trimmed brisket in hand, I was all excited marinating it on Friday night and spent the whole day of Saturday and Sunday dreaming about what it would turn out like. Sorry to spoil it for you, but the entire meal was a slam dunk win.

The brisket took a good four hours and the marinade reduced to a thick paste that worked perfectly as a sauce on the side. The meat cut like butter and has absorbed all the flavours of the ginger, garlic, vinegar and dried spices. I paired it with turmeric mashed potatoes and an apple-walnut raita, both also from Floyd's book. He indicated that the mashed potatoes were supposed to taste like the potato stuffing served with South Indian dosas and the description was right on the bat. And the raita, I have just one word: wow! It had such a beautiful balance of sweetness from the apple and tartness of the lime all tied together with the creamy yoghurt and fresh threads of mint. 

Without a doubt this meal will be replicated again soon. I was amazed at how wonderfully simple it was to cook the brisket and yet it turned out to be so impressive and flavourful. We all bounced back for seconds and promises were made that the recipe will be shared. Because it was exactly that kind of meal - homely, warm and comforting, just aching to be shared. And if you know me, that's exactly how I like every meal I share with friends and family to be.

Barbecued brisket (adapted from Floyd Cardoz's One Spice, Two Spice)
Serves 6

1 tbs black peppercorns
1 tbs cumin seeds
1 tbs mustard powder
1 cinnamon stick
2 dried kashmiri chillies
2 tbs chopped, peeled ginger
9 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 heaping tsp ground turmeric
3 cups quartered and sliced white onion
2 tbs agave syrup
1 12-ounce bottle Belgian style ale or beer (I used a dark ale)
2 cups canned tomatoes, including juice
1 31/4-pound beef brisket (preferably the thinner cut), trimmed but with a thin layer of fat
kosher salt

Cardoz recommends blending the first five ingredients together in a coffee grinder/spice grinder and pureeing the ginger, garlic and vinegar separately. Then combine with the rest of the ingredients and marinate for two to three days. I just pureed everything together, removed it in a large bowl and then added the beer to it. I added the brisket and let it sit in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Bring the brisket to the boil on the stove top in a 5 to 6 quart ovenproof pot (Cardoz says it isn't necessary for the marinade to cover the brisket completely). Then cook for around 31/2 to four hours turning every half an hour until tender. Add water if the marinade reduces too much. Serve with turmeric masked potatoes.