Edible Toronto — Winter
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COOKING WITH THE SEASONS

SLOW-COOKED MA PLE CIDER BRISKET

By Chef Courtney Contos

Courtesy of Edible Green Mountains

The aroma of this brisket – accented with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and bacon– will attract everyone to the kitchen while it's cooking, and then to the table where it's sure to be gobbled up in no time. The flavourful sauce is delightful served over mashed rutabagas or potatoes with a side of Brussels sprouts.

Makes 6 servings

1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
1/2 pound maple-smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional
3 tbsp bacon drippings or grapeseed oil
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup strong brewed coffee
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup maple syrup (preferably Canada #2 Amber or #1 Medium)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using a paring knife, cut small slits all over the brisket, inserting a sliver of garlic into each slit as you cut it. Place the brisket into a large Dutch oven or roasting pan fitted with a lid.

In a large sauté pan or saucepan, heat the bacon drippings over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until golden, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, salt, oregano, pepper, and cayenne and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Stir in the coffee, vinegar, maple syrup, broth and mustard. Bring the ingredients to a boil.

Pour the contents of the sauté pan over the brisket in the Dutch oven. Cover the pan with the lid and place it into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Decrease the heat to 300° F and bake, basting the meat with the pan sauce once or twice, until the brisket is fork tender, about 3 hours. Allow the meat to rest for about 15 minutes. Slice the meat across the grain using an electric knife or sharp carving knife. Place the sliced meat into a large ovenproof serving container with lid. Remove the fat from the surface of the sauce. Pour the sauce over and around the meat. Cover the container with the lid.

Place the container with the brisket back into the oven for 30 minutes. Garnish with the crumbled bacon (if using). Serve immediately.

Note: You can refrigerate the brisket overnight after slicing it, if desired. Reheat the brisket in a preheated 350° F oven until the sauce is bubbling, about 30 to 45 minutes.

From Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods, edited by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

TRIPLE GINGERBREAD WITH BRANDIED APPLES

By Lola Wykoff, Courtesy of Edible Jersey

This is a family recipe that's been tweaked with the addition of candied and fresh ginger. The fragrance of gingerbread baking always signified the start of autumn in the Wykoff. This is a special treat, with or without the brandied apples. (Note: the recipe is easily doubled)

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Gingerbread cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup dark corn syrup (editor's note: brown rice syrup can be substituted)
1 egg
1 2-inch knob of gingerroot, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger Brandied apples
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup applejack, apple brandy (such as Calvados) or brandy
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Make the gingerbread cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and sugar an 8-inch square baking pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and an electric hand mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the molasses, corn syrup, egg and gingerroot and beat until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger and salt. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk into the molasses mixture in three additions until blended. Stir in the candied ginger. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the centre of the cake bounces back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Continue to cool the cake on a rack.

Make the brandied apples: In a large saucepan, heat the butter, applejack, brown sugar and salt over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbling. Stir in the apples. Bring back up to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring very gently after 4 minutes, until the apples are soft but not mushy, about 8 to 9 minutes.

To serve: Spoon some of the brandied apples (warm or at room temperature) around each piece of cake. Top with ice cream or freshly whipped cream, if desired.

From Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods, edited by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
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