Thai brisket braising
September 29, 2016 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to make a recipe for a Thai-inspired braised brisket in a tamarind-palm sugar sauce, but have questions about the amount of liquid involved and making it in a slow cooker.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of braising liquid -- it's 1/2 cup (100g) palm sugar, 1/2 cup (120 ml) tamarind pulp and 2 Tbsp fish sauce for a 2.25 lb (1 kg) brisket, but I feel like I've seen braising recipes for the same amount of brisket that call for a lot more liquid (for example, this recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of various braising liquids for the same size brisket) -- should I just have faith in the recipe and use the quantities exactly? If not, should I just bulk it up with water?

I think I don't really understand how much liquid one needs to braise things (it seems to be somewhere between "none" and "drowning the meat"), so general thoughts on that are welcome as well.

The second question is, is there any reason I should not make this in a slow cooker? It seems like the right kind of recipe and cut of meat for that, and I'm the only one eating it (over several days, naturally) so I don't care about presentation/if it falls to pieces, etc.
posted by andrewesque to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a little confused by your question, because to me, there's not all that much difference between 1 cup plus 2 Tbs (the amount of liquid called for in the recipe) and 1 1/4 cups (the amount from the other recipe).

In any case, I think making it in a slow cooker is a fine idea. The liquid seems a little scant, though as long as it's covered it'll probably be fine. You don't need to drown the meat, but it's good to have enough liquid so it doesn't dry out.

You could always double the recipe or make half again as much if you want more sauce. But I wouldn't just add a bunch more water, it'll dilute the flavor too much.
posted by ottereroticist at 5:53 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Serious Eats is on it.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:20 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

No, I see your concern. I don't know anything about braising either but the first recipe is 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons. The second one is a cup and a quarter AND 28 ounces of crushed tomatoes, that's a LOT more liquid. Check out the reviews for the second one, there are a bunch of meh reviews saying the sauce was too thin and too tomatoey. If you go with the first recipe and it really doesn't seem like enough liquid, don't thin it with water, just mix up more liquid with the same proportions of pulp, sugar, and fish sauce.
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:25 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

A regular braise in a covered pan in the oven, you just need enough liquid to come halfway up the meat. And some evaporates in the oven, somehow, even when it's covered. But slow cooker instructions always ask you to add more; and they're invariably watery...

I wouldn't add water to that sauce, but you may need to double it. You might not need to... the meat will also give off a lot of liquid, and it doesn't evaporate much in the slow cooker, so you might be ok, particularly as 2.5 lbs is a very small brisket. I'd go with the original recipe but make sure you have ingredients on hand to double the sauce if it looks dry after a couple hours in the cooker.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:34 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

So I recently made the famous Mississippi Roast recipe in a crockpot, even though it has almost no added liquid (other than butter) and it was absolutely delicious. This made me think that for a lot of big cuts of meat, you can probably braise them in the crockpot with much less liquid than you would think, though I'm still experimenting with this. Anyway, I would have faith in the recipe (but report back!).
posted by willbaude at 8:00 PM on September 29, 2016

A brisket can be fatty (depending on the trim) and connective tissue. It will bring a lot of moisture to the party. The sugar will also melt down.

Really a braise is anything that sits in liquid as opposed to a roast which should be elevated above the liquid so it doesn't get wet. Technically you can braise meat without any additional liquid outside of what gets rendered out of the meat itself.

So don't get too hung up on the amount of liquid in the pan....
posted by bitdamaged at 8:28 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My crock pot rule is: only put as much liquid in as I want in the finished product.

Any time I think to add more water "just in case" it ends up soupy.

As long as you cook the meat long enough it will be soft and delicious.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2016

Tamarind is really acidic and will draw a lot of liquid from the meat. I think it will be fine.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2016

Reporting back -- the amount of liquid is perfectly fine and the recipe was very reliable. I got a slightly larger brisket since that's what was available, a flat-cut that was about 3 lbs/1.3 kg and increased all the marinade amounts by roughly 50%, i.e. 150g palm sugar, 200 ml tamarind concentrate and 3 Tbsp fish sauce.

I cooked it on low for 8 hours in the slow cooker and ended up with meat that was very fall-apart, much like pulled pork in consistency, and about 500 ml of liquid (so, plenty!) I reduced it with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and got a nice thick gravy.

All in all, it's delicious and was very low effort for the slab of meat I now have in my fridge! If I were to do it again with the same 3 lb brisket, I wouldn't increase the marinade amounts at all from the original recipe, especially in a slow cooker since it traps all the moisture.
posted by andrewesque at 11:07 AM on October 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

« Older Where can I find this video?   |   help this lifetime apartment dweller move into her... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.