Friday, February 15, 2013

Slow Cooker Thai Yellow Curry Brisket from NomNomPaleo

While on NomNomPaleo's website looking at the Creamy Tomato Soup recipe, I came across this recipe for Slow Cooker Thai Yellow Curry Grass Fed Brisket.  I had made it before and decided it was high time to make it again for the blog.  

Before we get started, I'll confess, I didn't use a grass-fed brisket.  I had a groupon for The Meat House that I needed to use.  How could I possibly pass up a groupon to a place called "The Meat House?"  I had not been before.  Sadly, they do not carry grass-fed beef, but they do have some really nice cuts of beef and a very helpful staff (more on that later).  

First, I gathered my ingredients.  

I decided to prepare the vegetable components first.  

The recipe calls for 1 pound of baby carrots.  For some reason, even when I buy organic, baby carrots have a very chemical taste to me, so I don't use them.  I wish they didn't because they would be ever so convenient.  If they don't taste funny to you, use them.  I peeled and cut up my carrots into baby carrot size pieces. 

Next, I peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes and chopped up some onion.  The recipe calls for 2  small onions.  My onions were on the large side, so I used 1.5 onions.   

And then it was time to cut up the brisket.  

Believe it or not, this started out as a 9 pound piece of brisket.  I only needed 3.5 pounds.  The Meat House staff happily trimmed the fat of it and remarkably it ended up being just under 3.5 pounds.  As this isn't grass-fed meat, I didn't want the extra fat.    I was shocked they were willing to trim it down when they could have made me buy the full 9 pounds.  Behold, the beef!
What a pretty piece of meat!
I cut the brisket into cubes that were roughly 1.5 inches per the recipe instructions.  

Next, I started to prepare the curry sauce.  I added 1 tablespoon coconut oil to a small sauce pan (1 quart) on medium heat.

I measured out the curry paste and added it to the heated oil and stirred it around.  Watch your pan here  because if your oil is too hot, the curry paste will burn quickly.  NomNomPaleo recommends Aroy-D curry paste.  I haven't found that at any stores around me so I used the Mae Ploy brand.  The ingredients in the Mae Ploy brand are just as clean as the Aroy-D.  

Once fragrant, I added the coconut milk to the pan and stirred to combine the curry with the milk.  

When the sauce started to simmer, I added the fish sauce and coconut aminos.

And finally, I added the apple juice.  This recipe is the only reason I buy apple juice.  After reading about all the regulatory technicalities that are used in labeling juice, I really don't like to buy it.  I like these little glass jars of juice from Martinelli's.  They say their juice is "100% pure juice from U.S. grown fresh apples, not from concentrate, with no additives of any kind."  I feel like I'm wasting less when I pour the remainder of the bottle out than if I bought a large container of juice regardless of brand. 

And then I gave the sauce a final stir. 

I got started on this too late in the day to cook for 9-10 hours without keeping me up pretty late, so I decided to press pause on this recipe and put it in the slow cooker the next morning to cook away while I was at work.  

The next morning, I added the vegetables to the bottom of my slow cooker crock.

And added the cubed brisket.

And finally the curry sauce.

I set the slow cooker for 10 hours on low.  The crock pot is a little fuller than I'd usually like, but as I know the vegetables on the bottom will cook down a bit, I wasn't concerned.  

When I got home, I checked the slow cooker and everything had in fact cooked down but the meat on top looked very brown - like a burnt brown.  I should have taken a picture, but I was a coward.  I opened the lid, gave everything a good stir and all was well.  Whew.

Here is my finished dish.

Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  The recipe specifically calls for grass-fed brisket.  Since The Meat House, didn't carry any, I used a conventional brisket trimmed of a considerable amount of its fat.  It was $4.99/lb.  For comparison, I called Whole Foods and asked how much per pound their brisket was selling for and they said $6.99/lb.  So, it's not a huge price difference if you're only getting 3.5 pounds.  Setting the grass-fed meat issue aside, you should be able to find all of the remaining ingredients at your big box grocery store.  I bought the Aroy-D Coconut Milk ($2.49/33 ounce box) and Yellow Curry Paste ($2.69) at my local Asian grocery.  

Preparation & Cooking Time:  It took me 20 minutes to prepare this recipe to slow cook.  If you use baby carrots, you can subtract 4 minutes from that preparation time.  It took me 5 minutes to dump the ingredients into the slow cooker the next morning.  I set the slow cooker on low for 10 hours.  By the time I returned home, the cooker had been on standby for 2 hours 45 minutes.  

Clean Up:  Everything I used in preparing the recipe before putting it in the slow cooker except for my sauce pan went into the dishwasher.  After slow cooking and storing the finished dish, I filled the slow cooker crock and let it soak before washing it by hand.  I could have put it in the dishwasher but as I was already pre-scrubbing, I decided to just finish off the job.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  Here are the words that came to mind when I tasted this dish: tender, sweet, flavorful and hearty goodness.  I love the creamy curry flavor of this dish.  I don't know what else to say other than it's simply lovely.

In the past, I've made this dish with the grass-fed brisket as directed.  After making it with the trimmed conventional brisket, I can say there is no taste difference.  Both turned out equally well.  After I refrigerated the dish overnight, I skimmed off the fat that had solidified on top since its not as healthy for me than the fat from a grass-fed cut of beef.

The brisket and vegetables freeze well.

There are two things I've wanted to try with this recipe.  The first is omitting the sweet potatoes and doubling the carrots to make it more of an everyday meal for me since I only eat starchy carbohydrates post-workout.  I'm afraid to do it because the sweet potatoes pretty much disintegrate and give body  to the sauce.  I guess worst case scenario the sauce would be really runny.  The second thing I've wanted to try is omitting the apple juice.  I'm sure it adds some sweetness, but its only 2 tablespoons.  Would it be missed?  I think I've worked up the courage to do it.  When I do, I'll update the post with my results.

For now, if you are in the mood for a creamy flavorful meaty dish that can greet you after a long day at work (or whenever), give this one a try.

Blog Note:  I've added a cool recipe suggestion widget to the blog (at least I think its cool).  If you have a recipe you'd like me to test out, just fill out the form and I'll take a look.