Polenta Brisket Peperonata

Polenta Brisket Peperonata
I went out for a drink last Friday in Borough Market with one of my oldest and best buddies and needless to say, I got very drunk. I should have had something to eat beforehand, on the advice of my better half who always, always advises me to do so but I never listen. So as usual, I found myself floundering around the streets of SE1 around midnight, arms windmilling, legs moving one step forward, three steps back. A terrible epitome of car crash TV and the bane of A&E's up and down the land. Not that I ended up there mind. I don't ever get that bad. Although it was bad when Mrs FU rang me, asking where I was and I said that I seemed to be in the middle of a very busy road; which I can only presume was London Bridge. When I finally got home, my worried and somewhat angry wife said she could hear screaming horns and screaming apoplexy echoing in the background. One day I will grow up.

But hey, I don't get like that that often and I don't get to see my best mate much these days and it's good to let your hair down once in a while (he says, whistling). And we did have share some very big giggles, so there you go. One topic that came up amongst many was beer. We do like to talk about beer. About it's inherent, sulfurous nature, the way that some particularly 'hoppy' ones can taste like soap and whether we've made the full transition into old CAMRA farts yet, complete with ridiculous t-shirts, socks, sandals and moobs. I brought up Innis & Gunn, brewers of unique, cask flavoured beers based in Edinburgh, Scotchland, as I've been drinking a lot of their stuff lately and we both raised an eyebrow and a wry smile.

"Bloody nice aren't they. Quite.... vanilla-ry"

"Yep, I tried a limited edition one the other day. Very smokey, lovely it was."

"But very strong."

"Yes, very strong. Reminds me of some Belgian beers."

"Jerry loves Innis & Gunn but he always has to have a slice of orange in his pint."

Jerry is a friend of ours. Well, more of a friend of my best mate who knows Jerry from university but I also know him well. I am sure Jerry won't mind me saying this but he is a Tory poster boy on the Alan B'stard scale, notoriously smug and looks like a German. We both pondered whether this preference for a citrus tang came from the proliferation of shite lagers out there that are 'radlerising' themselves up. Or if it came down to the simple fact that Jerry enjoys stuffing his mouth with oranges, like all good Conservative MP's do. Which is a bit harsh on Jerry because he is a decent bloke really with a warm, albeit disillusioned heart. Still it made us larf.

Yeah, I am not too down with the whole adding fruit to my beer these days. I've sunk my fair share of Sol and Coronas with a slice of lime, don't get me wrong; but as I've got older, I prefer drinking it unadulterated. I don't mind using it as an ingredient though, and boom, there is the tenuous link that leads us from a tale of weekend binge drinking to this rather smashing recipe that I came up with for last night's dinner. From the title of this post, you can see that lovely brisket is on the agenda and you might be getting prepared for a 48 hour method of dry curing and marinating but I cheated and bought my brisket already slow cooked from Waitrose.

"E's got a bloody cheek knocking his true blue mate when he's orf shorping in Waitrose, ain't he?" you might well be saying in your head right now but I do like to shop in Waitrose from time to time, especially when I can get my hands on brisket that is half price (I do love a Waitrose red and white sticker me).

So yes, this recipe calls for pre-cooked beef but if you want to try the whole seven day, slow cook in the woods thing, go knock yourself out. The great trick though is to add a bottle of Innis & Gunn to the pot after cooking the joint through, scraping the bottom of your casserole with a wooden spoon to get all that flavour out of the remaining grubbings. If you can get hold of some of the limited addition 'Malt Whiskey Trail' then even better. After reducing by half, the gravy was fantastic. Throw some tangy peperonata and cheesy polenta into the equation and before you know it, you'll have a dish fit for a King.

He says, patting himself on the back.

Polenta, Brisket, Peperonata - serves 4

1 Waitrose Slow Cooked Beef Brisket (750gm)

2 red peppers, 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced into strips

2 red onions, finely sliced (1 for the brisket, 1 for the peperonata)

2 garlic gloves, crushed

Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1 tbs of red wine vinegar

1 bottle of Innis and Gunn beer

Olive oil

1 packet of polenta, (375gms)

250gms of Parmesan cheese, grated

500ml water

Salt and pepper


First, heat your oven to 140C. Then take a casserole pot and scatter the red onion slices on the bottom and place the brisket on top and then drizzle over the accompanying sauce along with a healthy splash of beer. Cover and braise for an hour, according to instructions (I left it in for 2 hour to make sure it was extra flaky).

Whilst that is cooking, make your peperonata by placing a frying pan on the hob over a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and once hot, throw in the peppers. Stir through, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat and then cover with a lid. Leave to gently cook for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Then add the second red onion and garlic, stir through, cover and again, leave to gently cook for 20 minutes. Once everything is nice and soft, bring the heat up and add the vinegar and reduce. Stir through the parsley, check for seasoning and cook through for another minute or so and then set aside.

When the beef is ready, take the meat out and pull apart in bowl with forks and keep warm. Strain the remaining liquor into a saucepan with a sieve, pushing down on the onions to release the juice. Deglaze the casserole pot with another splash of beer, scraping around the place and pour into the saucepan. Add the remaining beer and place on the heat and reduce by half.

For the polenta, again cook according to instructions on the packet i.e. bring 500ml of water to the boil, dump the polenta in, stir like crazy for 8 minutes, dump the Parmesan cheese in, stir like crazy again, season and then breathe.

To plate up, take a bowl and add a generous spoonful of polenta and then place some of the ribboned brisket on top and drizzle over a nice ladle of gravy. Finish with a generous helping of peperonata on top of the beef.


Pretty peperonata
Food styling advertising beer
Innis & Gunn Beer....................burp


Unknown said…
Like wot you dun here - like the Duck'n'Waffle braised ox cheek on cheesy polenta at Taste o'Laaandan only shredded, so far easier to eat. And for that, I saluteth you.
Alicia Foodycat said…
My mother made an inedible carbonnade flamande when I was a teenager, and I haven't quite recovered. Even steak & ale pie is a bit much for me. Poor woman, a lifetime of brilliant cooking and I remember most the three things I couldn't eat (one of which was beef in beer and two of which were polenta...)
Food Urchin said…
Zoe - Yes, I did take some inspiration from what the Wuck and Daffle boys served up at Taste.....shit, does this mean I have to acknowledge this in the post??

Alicia - In all honesty, the kids weren't all that keen on the polenta either, but we'll keep trying until we get there.
Adam Garratt said…
Never been a huge fan of polenta, I use it when making pizzas to make it easier to slide them off the pizza stone but that's about it really. I can relate the old CAMRA brigade though, I find myself leaning more and more towards ales and stout now and less of the rubbish fizzy pop lagers. I had a super ale the other day called brasilia, a guest ale at my local.
It seems a lot of work for this dish, but I guess worth it. Looks so delicious. I like this combination, especially the use of beer, it is special. :)

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