Tuesday, October 19, 2004

We will soon be sitting in front of the television, watching the presidential election results pour in. That much we have in common. Our political opinions are another matter.

To keep the party from getting uncomfortable, plan a heartwarming and rib-sticking meal sure to satisfy and keep people on their best behavior. The menu revolves around a wonderful beef brisket recipe that has been in my file for years.

You cook the brisket in the slow cooker with onion soup mix and tomato soup to tenderize and flavor the beef. That way, the meat simmers conveniently to doneness as you stand in line at the polls.

Serve this brisket with mashed potatoes; steamed green beans or coleslaw; hot bread of your liking; and a crowd-pleasing apple pie, homemade or frozen, warmed through and served with vanilla ice cream.

Whether the Nov. 2 election results are sweet or sour in your opinion, the sweet-and-sour brisket won’t disappoint.

Five time-shaving meals from the slow cooker:

• Flour, season and brown cubed steak over medium-high heat, then transfer to a slow cooker with sliced onions. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until fork-tender.

• Make a quick vegetarian chili by combining drained canned beans, canned tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, sauteed onions, peppers, garlic and a bay leaf. Cover and cook on low power for 6 hours.

• Blanket boneless, skinless chicken breast halves that have been placed in the slow cooker with taco seasoning. Cover and cook on low power for 6 hours or until chicken is tender. Shred meat and serve with beans, tortillas, shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

• Simmer a corned-beef brisket in water to cover for 6 to 8 hours on low power.

• Season, flour and brown a beef chuck roast on both sides. Place the roast on top of sliced onions and carrots and cook on high power for 6 hours.

Sweet-and-sour brisket of beef

The preparation time is 10 minutes, and the cooking time is 6 hours.

1 4- to 5-pound beef brisket, trimmed of fat

1/4 cup flour

1 1.25-ounce packet onion soup mix

1 10.75-ounce can tomato soup

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Pat brisket dry with paper towel. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge brisket in flour, then shake off the excess. Place brisket in a 4½- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Place onion soup mix, tomato soup and pepper in a small bowl with 1/4 cup of water; stir to combine. Pour this mixture over the brisket.

Cover cooker, and cook beef on high heat until it is quite tender, 6 hours.

Remove brisket from cooker; place it on a platter. Cover it loosely with aluminum foil to keep it warm.

Strain liquid that is left in the cooker. Spoon off as much fat as possible or use a gravy separator to remove the fat from the liquid.

Pour strained and defatted liquid into a 2-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat.

Add brown sugar and vinegar, and stir until the sauce heats through and the brown sugar melts.

Slice the brisket, pour enough sauce over it to moisten it, then serve the remaining sauce on the side. Makes 12 servings.


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