I have had great success with pulled pork shoulder over the last year having read Cooked by Michael Pollan. The trick with pulled pork is to use a tough cut like shoulder and cook it low and slow. This softens up all of the connective tissue in the meat which gives great flavour and moistness to the cooked meat.
So back to the 'Pulled Beef'. This turned out to be brisket. I had a bad experience with brisket last year: a pricey joint that I had to order and which did not cook well. Brisket by the way is the chest of the cow. Cows don't have breast bones, so the brisket muscles have a lot of work to do to support the animal as it stands. For this reason it's a tough cut and ideal for my needs. I was determined to get it right though so I had a bit of a trawl on the internet.
I like Tom Kerridge. He is an English Chef with a Michelin Star who I had seen on Saturday Kitchen. He cooks to excess, so his recipe for a pulled beef sandwich seemed like a good place to start. He cooks the meat on a grid over a pool of beef stock. He covers the whole lot in foil to keep the moisture in. This gives a soft end product without drying during the long cooking time. You can find his full recipe here.
Tom's dish is a sandwich. We mainly eat paleo and although we have some treats at the weekend, bread is almost never on the list. Especially not a white roll as in Kerridge's recipe as nice as it sounds! So I needed to adapt the recipe a bit to make it into a full meal for our family.
One of my coworkers is from Venezuela and when I told him I was cooking brisket he told me about a traditional recipe he used to have when he was younger. It uses skirt steak 'falda' in Spanish, which is another pretty tough cut and I think resembles brisket a bit.
This is the recipe we found together on the web which most matched what he was used to. He mentioned that red peppers were also used, so I added them in.
So this is what I came up with. It was absolutely delicious and will definitely be added our list of weekend favourites.
2 red peppers
1 tsp each of cumin, coriander seed, black pepper, salt, sweet paprika and mustard seeds
2 red peppers
2 onions chopped
500 ml of beef stock
MethodGrind the spices together and rub them well into the surface of the meat. It should be tied by your butcher. Leave the string on and just rub the spices on the outside. Sit the joint on a grid in a roasting tray. Pour the hot stock down the side (don't wash off the spice rub) and cover the whole lot in foil. Seal the edges well. You are trying to keep everything moist in there. If the stock dries up it will burn and your sauce will be ruined.
Put it in a preheated oven at 170 C.
It will need 4 to 6 hours depending on your cut. Mine took 5 hours. After about 3 hours lift the foil (try not to tear it) to see if it has dried out. If it is, top it up with boiling water from the kettle. After 4 hours check the doneness of the meat by removing the foil and trying to pull the meat apart with 2 forks. When it is completely done it should pull apart easily.
When it is nearly done you can get started on the stir fried vegetables which will accompany.
Wash and dry the peppers. Light a gas burner and drop the peppers right on the flame. Use a tongs to rotate them to get the skin blackened. This takes longer than you might think, but it worth being patient with. Once the peppers are blackened wash and peel off the burnt bits. deseed the peppers and roughly chop them.
Next stir fry the copped onions in coconut oil at high temperature. When they are nearly done add the peppers and keep everything moving until fully cooked. The pour the juices and stock from the bottom of the roasting tray into the wok and stir everything up.
Pull the beef apart. Place a nest of it on each plate. Smother with the saucy vegetables. I served this with steamed broccoli too.
Whenever we eat like this we are reminded that paleo is not a struggle.