I honestly don't know how people can live without a crock pot. I mean really. It's saved my life more than once. Well, not literally, but it's so amazing to come home from work and know that dinner is done. With just a few minutes of work in the morning your dinner is done. One of my coworkers has to cook for his house every two weeks (he lives in a teacher commune, essentially) and his cooking stories are pretty hilarious. I keep telling him to invest in a crock pot--it's a miracle device. There's no denying the convenience of the crock pot. We live in a wonderful world, I tell ya.
What's even more wonderful about the crock pot is that everyone has one. Everyone has one but no one knows what the hell to do with it. They register for one and they ask, "Now what?" The answer, my friends, is the crock pot cookbook. Spend a few minutes on Amazon.com searching for crock pot cookbooks and you'll find a veritable feast of crock pot cookbooks and options. One of my favorites is this one, a Christmas gift from my in-laws. It's got some good nutritional info, and a "bonus" section of one-pot meals that's handy to have but kind of odd in a crock pot cookbook. I found this recipe just across the page from the Beef Brisket in Ale recipe I featured a few months ago. This makes a great sandwich and is perfect for weeknights or Game Day.
Smokey BBQ Beef Brisket
(Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
1-3 lb. beef brisket
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. chili sauce
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 T. vinegar
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/3 c. water
3 T. all-purpose flour
Trim any excess fat from brisket--trim to fit into slow cooker if necessary. Combine chili powder, garlic powder, celery seed, and pepper to create a dry rub. Spread dry rub evenly over brisket and place in slow cooker.
Combine ketchup, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and mustard powder. Mix well and pour over brisket, covering meat.
Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.
When brisket is done, remove from slow cooker and cut across the grain in to slices or shred meat for sandwiches. Skim fat from juices and measure 2 1/2 c. of juice. Discard fat and excess juice. In a small pot, stir flour into water and add reserved juice. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Serve immediately.
- This makes a great BBQ sandwich. I chose to shred the meat rather than slice it.
- This would also be a great pulled pork recipe, just use a pork shoulder.
- I'd never used liquid smoke before but I found it to be pretty effective in replicating the taste and flavor of true smoked or barbequed meat. I found it near the BBQ sauces and salad dressings, even though the ever-so-unfriendly shelf stockers at "The Jewel" told me it was in the baking/spice aisle.
- I actually skipped the gravy because there was barely any juice left in the crockpot when I took out the beef. I thought the beef would have been dry but it wasn't. It was nice and dark on the top but really flavorful inside. We just spread some bbq sauce over the meat when we made our sandwiches and it was great.
- I know some people think slow cooker cooking really isn't cooking, but it really is. Each meal tastes different and tastes like I slaved over the stove but all I did was plop it in and then take the lid off when it was done. It's easy to screw up crockpotting if you're not careful, and there have been plenty of times when a less than half full crockpot resulted in a sloppy, burned mess. There's an art to it, that's for sure. Once you've figured it out, it feels pretty damn good, too.