Go Savor – Savannah, Georgia and a Recipe for Brisket with Vidalia Onion Puree
Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well so far. I am still trying to recover from all of the fun that we had at Go Savor this past weekend! I am anxiously awaiting this coming weekend to have a vacation from my last vacation.
I was very excited a few months ago when I received an invitation to attend Go Savor in Savannah, Georgia. Nobody loves a road trip better than we do, so we were going to make the most of it!
Thank you so much to Robyn (Add a Pinch), Amy (She Wears Many Hats) and Debra (Smith Bites) for putting together a fun-filled weekend in a beautiful city. We love Savannah and had quite the time snapping a few photos while we were there. It is most certainly picturesque.
It was great to see some old friends again and be able to meet some new ones. I enjoy getting to see people in real life that I have “known” online. Since we all love great food, there is a pretty good chance that you just might have something in common.
We had some great meals, cocktails and desserts throughout the weekend. What else would you expect from a bunch of food loving folks? Thank you so much to Cheryl and Griff (Back in the Day Bakery) for all of the baked goodies. I especially enjoyed the beautiful breads. Now I need to run around the block twice as much this week. 😉
My favorite parts of the weekend were the two photography sessions that we had. Friday evening Helene (Tartelette) and her husband Bill had a session on photographing food with artificial light. If you have to do this on a regular basis (as we do), you know how hard it is.
We also had a food styling and photography session Saturday morning with Tami (Running with Tweezers) and Helene (Tartlette). The tips were very helpful and being part of a small group was especially nice.
- We ventured out to go sight-seeing during our free time on Saturday instead of napping. I’m not sure what we were thinking about since we had a sleepless evening Friday night. The St. Patrick’s Day festivities were kicking into high gear just as we arrived and the revelers were carrying on outside our window until the wee hours of the morning. Erin go brah!
Did you know that 2011 marks the 187th year of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Savannah? Savannah also has one of the largest celebrations in the country for St. Patty’s Day. I bet there’s a lot of green beer flowing in that city tomorrow!
Do you notice that we seem to travel to cities right before the major party begins? We were in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras. What is up with that? Could there be a theme here?
- Much appreciation goes to the sponsors that made this weekend possible. We had some awesome swag bag goodies and giveaways. I was fortunate to win two of them. I received some beautiful linens from Helene and the Bon Appétit, Y’All cookbook from Virginia Willis. There’s nothing like a new cookbook and some fresh props to get you inspired!
Thank you again to everyone that was involved in the Go Savor weekend. It was a real pleasure to spend a relaxing weekend together in Savannah!
Hello to everyone else that was not specifically mentioned above that was at Go Savor. It was nice to be able to spend time getting to know you all better – Paula (Bell’alimento), Shari (Tickled Red), Julie (The Little Kitchen) and Chris (Melle Cotte).
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, I have prepared Virginia Willis’ Brisket with Vidalia Onion Puree (I made it with Guinness Draught beer) and her Meme’s Braised Cabbage. Sounds like good Irish fare to me!
I am excited to be able to share this recipe with you for the brisket and the cabbage, but you should definitely add this cookbook to your collection. The brisket was tender and I loved the flavors in the sauce. The cabbage recipe was simple to prepare and will convince cabbage haters (Mr. B) that it is a great vegetable. I have bookmarked almost every recipe since they all look so good! You can read more about Virginia Willis at VirginiaWillis.com.
Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day!
Brisket with Vidalia Onion Puree and Meme's Braised Cabbage
Brisket is tough, and it is best suited for braising and slow cooking, which tenderizes the meat from within by dissolving the cut’s plentiful collagen and fat. Brisket is very often smoked in the South; in fact, barbecue means brisket in Texas, as barbecue means pork in the Southeast. Buy fresh brisket (not corned or brined), ideally the flat or first cut, which is leaner than point or second cut, and has a layer of fat running across it to help keep it moist.
Hungarian paprika, ground from dried sweet peppers, gives the sauce another layer of flavor and a slightly reddish color. There are six types of Hungarian paprika, ranging from delicate to hot; any of them would be fine in this dish. My mother and Aunt Lee took a whirlwind trip to Eastern Europe several years ago. True to their natures, they did have enough time, however, to shop. Knowing how much I like to purchase local ingredients when I travel, Mama brought me paprika as a gift. It’s basically a lifetime supply. I store it in the freezer in an airtight container to help it last as long as possible and not become stale and flavorless.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (31/2- to 4-pound) beef brisket, preferably first cut (see headnote)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 onions, preferably Vidalia, thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
12 ounces dark beer or ale
2 cups beef stock (page 227) or low-fat, reduced-sodium beef broth, plus more if needed
This is another example of simple country cooking that would be equally at home cooked in a cast-iron skillet in the South or simmered in a cocotte on grandmère’s stovetop in France. Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable, and if stored properly, will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. Once again, bacon drippings was Meme’s fat of choice, but you can substitute butter. Other oils do not give the dish the richness it needs. (Before you make any comments about Meme’s arteries, she lived to be ninety-two!)
Try this dish with Meme’s Fried Fatback (page 84) and her Cornmeal Griddle Cakes (page 216). You will be glad you did.
2 tablespoons bacon fat or unsalted butter
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup chicken stock (page 227) or low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 sprig of thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. To cook the brisket, in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Sear the brisket until a rich, dark brown on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Remove to a plate.
Decrease the heat to medium, add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to color and soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the paprika, bay leaves, and seared brisket. Add the beer and stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and bake until tender, 21/2 to 31/2 hours, adding more stock, if needed, so the meat does not dry out.
Remove the brisket from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Remove and discard the bay leaves. In the Dutch oven, using an immersion blender, puree the onions until smooth. Or, once the beef is removed, ladle the sauce and vegetables into a blender and puree a little at a time until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the cabbage and saute until the cabbage starts to wilt, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Decrease the heat to medium, and simmer until the cabbage is meltingly tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the sprig of thyme and taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
*Cook's notes: I cooked my brisket for a little over 3 hours and it was perfect. My brisket was about 4 1/4 pounds to start. I used Guinness Draught beer. Vidalia Onions were not available, so I used sweet onions. I used low-sodium broths for both recipes. I skimmed some of the fat from my sauce. The best way to do it is using a separator or you can refrigerate the leftovers and skim the fat the next day.
Reprinted with permission from Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.