Holiday gatherings this year are going to be a little different especially depending on where you live. We’re in San Francisco, and since March 2020 we’ve been sheltering in place. With a vaccine for COVID-19 still under development, we’ll be celebrating Chanukah with just our immediate family. And we’ll be enjoying a mouthwatering brisket that’s perfectly sized for our family of 3.
There are tons of recipes for entertaining hordes on the Internet. Few explain how one might make a brisket for themselves and their partner. This recipe is for an intimate Chanukah dinner—a couple, two roommates, a parent and a teen, a parent and two littles.
This recipe is the result of years of research, experimentation, and troubleshooting. So, rather than simply modifying another recipe - a hit or miss proposition at best - give this stress-free recipe a try.
Four Tips for a Mouthwatering Brisket
I’ve found there are four things that increase your odds of serving a mouthwatering meal your family will reminisce fondly about for years to come...and none of them involve browning your brisket before tossing it into the slow cooker. Browning your brisket won’t save your meal if you make one of the following rookie errors:
1. Don’t even proceed with this recipe if your well-meaning butcher trims the fat off your brisket. (It won’t work so don’t even try it; make a lovey beef stew instead.
2. If you can’t find brisket, don’t blindly toss a different cut of meat into your slow cooker. Brisket is the toughest of cuts, so the length of time in the slow cooker is too long for other more expensive cuts like Prime Rib.
3. Cooking on HIGH for half the time will not save you from poor time management skills or lack of planning. Wake up early if you want to eat it the same day you make it; start it the night before to rest when you rise and finish in the oven later; or just make it the day before, let it rest overnight, and finish in the morning.
4. Make sure you have the same size brisket as the recipe. Your liquid-to-meat ratio as well as cooking time won’t be the same if you’re using more or less than 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of beef brisket. Also, you need one cut that’s 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds. If your portion is less than a pound, chop up and make beef stew.
And now...the recipe!
The Ultimate Brisket
This slow cooker recipe doesn’t require you to use your oven or stovetop. You’ll chop your vegetables and toss them, the brisket, and sauces into your slow cooker and basically forget it for a few hours.
Note: Because you’ll flip the brisket halfway through the cooking process, this isn’t a good recipe to start before you go to bed. If you’re planning on eating Chanukah dinner earlier in the day, you can leave it to cook overnight, just flip the brisket in the morning and cook on slow for an additional hour.
Before you start assembling ingredients, we need to chat about cooking with wine. To save money you may be tempted to select a bottle of “cooking wine” from your grocery aisle. Don’t do that. My cousin, a chef, chastised me for doing this years ago. “If you wouldn’t drink a wine, you shouldn’t cook with it.”
Now, this doesn’t mean if you’re serving an expensive bottle that you need to use it for cooking. He recommends choosing the same varietal of wine or in a pinch same color. We enjoyed our brisket with 2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard ($98) and added Merlot to our brisket in the slow cooker.
Ingredients (Serves 2):
3 yellow gold potatoes, quartered
A bunch of baby carrots, cut in thirds
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound beef brisket, flat cut
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon soy or tamari sauce
1 1/2 cups beef or mushroom broth
1/2 cup Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon (if you don’t have wine, substitute with broth)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow or red onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
Instructions (cooking time: 8-9 hours)
Red wine lovers will rejoice when you bring out this brisket. Because of the subtle flavors in this dish, you can easily serve it with Pinot Noir, a well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon, or even a Merlot.
Which of the three reds you pair your Chanukah brisket with will come down to personal tastes (and your side dishes). For me, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy screams Pinot Noir. My husband is partial to Cabernets with beef, so I swapped the mashed potatoes with latkes and delicata squash. We chose the 2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard over the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County to avoid having tannins overwhelm the apple sauce and squash. Don’t fret: the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County had its moment in the spotlight when we served our Vegetarian Harvest meal (coming to the blog soon).
Eden Hensley Silverstein is a third-generation Californian, who has been feeding her family, friends, and soon-to-be friends around her kitchen table since she was in third grade. Along with her husband, 8.5 year old daughter, and Maine Coon/Ragamuffin rescue cat, she makes 849 sq ft a welcoming home in The Mission. They share recipes and misadventures on The Road to the Good Life.
This is the first Merlot we've created since the 2012 vintage, but we felt that the fruit was so gorgeous this vintage that we couldn't pass it up. Merlot, one of the six Noble Grapes and one of the five Bordeaux varietals, is known for it's lucious character of red fruits, its easy tannins and soft finish. At Cultivar, we think these "easy drinking" qualities make Merlot one of the best wines to pair with a wide variety of dishes.
So, we caught up with our own Chef David and Nick Barker of Cultivar SF to ask them about the dishes they think our Merlot would compliment the best.
You may not think at first that an Autumn Salad would pair with Merlot, but we love the combination. Featuring spinach, Granny Smith apples, Bosc pears, Cultivar bacon, pepitas, dried cranberries, and golden balsamic dressing, it's a perfect combination of sweet and savory.
Our Ricotta Dip is another suprising choice: Caspar Estate Vegetables, peccorino romano, and melted mozzarella & ricotta give this dish a gooey decadence that punctuates the bright acids in our merlot. Chef David comments that the earthiness of the chanterelle mushrooms and the spinach pair make it a natural for Merlot. Nick loves this hearty, warm, winter dish and that it balances the medium body of merlot with a touch of fruit.
Chicken Mole? Yes, please! Chicken, homemade mole, polenta, cilantro cream, micro oregano and cotija cheese create an explosion of flavors. Our Napa Valley Merlot refreshes the pallate and brings alll the incredible flavors to the fore. Chef David particularly likes the spices of the mole with the Napa Valley Merlot.
Come in to Cultivar SF on Sunday, November 15th to celebrate the public release of the Napa Valley Merlot and taste these pairings for yourself. When you order a glass of our 2017 Merlot you will receive a surprise paired bite.
Fall has to be one of our most favorite seasons here at Cultivar Wine. Not only does the Fall mean that harvest is coming, but that the Holidays are just around the corner...and with them, new wines created specifically to pair with food.
This Fall is no exception, as we have recently released two wines that are not only begging to be paired with your favorite dishes, but come from regions known to be home to some of the best wines on Earth. We specifically picked these areas to source wines for our Fall wine releases, knowing that we'd be able to create something really special.
The 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Valley, is something special indeed. One glance at the deep red wine in your glass and you know you’re sipping the very best Napa has to offer. Bold tones of tobacco, mocha, black currant jam, and cardamom hit the nose, while the palate explodes with layers of new oak, peat, salted caramel, cedar, nutmeg and juicy purple fruits. Complexity rules the finish here, with simultaneous waves of cappuccino, Lemon rind and leather carried on waves of youthful tannins. This wine begs you to order a lamb burger with blue cheese or rib eye Philadelphia Style if you’ve got the nerve. We paired it here with mission figs, we grow fig trees at Caspar Estate and they have always been a favorite for us, add goat cheese, and enjoy! Photo credit Eric Zepeda Studio.
St. Helena is a smaller - and quite varried - sub-appellation in Napa Valley. Its vineyards stretch from the valley floor up to the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, providing for growing conditions that can encompass warm and cool regions simultaneously. The soil is a mixture of extremes: ancient riverbed and volcanic rock, a uniqueness that's apparent in every wine that comes from this northern Napa Valley gem. We hand-crafted less than 75 cases of our St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and after our Wine Club received their allocation, only a few dozen cases remain.
Our second release for Fall 2020 is one of our most exciting: the 2019 Cultivar Wine Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. Our first-ever pinot from the cool, Burgundy-like slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands is a beauty and a wonder. With notes of plums, black licorice, fennel and hints of earthiness, one quickly discovers this will be a rich, lush, creamy pinot noir. Dark fruit layers give way to tomato pureé and vegetal tones with a playful herbaceous quality. On the finish, the pure balance gives clues to a subtle oak treatment, revealing caramel, root beer and the promise of even more complexity with age. Grab a bottle along with some herbed goat cheese, fig crostini and blueberries. We even love a delicate pinot like this to accompany Thanksgiving turkey.
The Santa Lucia Highlands wine growing region in western Monterey County achieved formal American Viticulture Appellation recognition in 1991. Since then, it has emerged as one of the premiere cool-climate growing regions for pinto noir on the west coast. The small but mighty appellation is home to multi-generation farmers and revered winemakers who craft award-wining and highly-acclaimed wines.
Want to try our new releases? Click here and see for yourself why terroir makes all the difference in Cultivar Wine.
3rd Annual Thomas Keller Golf Classic
Caspar Estate is proud to be aligned with Chef Thomas Keller and Silverado Resort to sponsor the CIA Culinary Institute of America. The Thomas Keller Golf Classic to Benefit The Culinary Institute of America is made possible in partnership with world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller, whose passion for golf, food, and mentorship of future chefs is legendary.
Chef Thomas Keller
We are making a difference in the Napa Valley and students at the CIA by raising essential funds for CIA student scholarships, helping CIA students to achieve their dreams and preparing them for leadership positions in the industry.Food and wine make a perfect pairing.
Steve Garvey thanking Dianne Jones for the Caspar Estate Gift Box
Thank you to Silverado Resort & Spa, Chef Thomas Keller and all of the golfer who participated! We loved being a part of this very special event.
Spring Wines for your sipping pleasure...
As it turns warmer here in the Napa Valley we are enjoying these small lot production wines. The Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon calls for a bison burger or thinly sliced flank steak cut on the grain, coated with Crushed Garlic olive oil, salt and pepper, served with rosemary roasted potatoes and asparagus finished with Alderwood smoked salt.
Photo of 2018 Bud Break of 2018 Leaky Lake Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
The Leaky Lake vineyard of clay and loam soils lead to a rich seductive fruit forward wine. The 2014 Leaky Lake in the glass is dark with brilliant red and blue hues. The nose has notes of cherry, raspberry and sweet vanilla with notes of cola and spice. On the palate the wine follows the red fruit aromas with cherry, raspberry with black currants. The finish is a minute long, with sweet tannins from both the French oak and beautifully structured fruit of the Mayacamas Mountain. While very tempting to drink now cellar for 5-10 years will be well rewarded.
The 2016 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc pairs amazingly with grilled shrimp topped with Cultivar Lime olive oil and roasted or grilled spring vegetables.
201Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc is a rich wine all the way from the aromas to the palate with a long finish. The first impression is of tropical fruits that are followed by hues of lemon zest; granny smith apples, and green gage plums. On the palate you feel the richness of fruit with notes of vanilla from the French oak barrel aging. The richness is balanced with brightness from tropical fruits and a hint of minerality on the finish. Like all of the Cultivar wines, the 2016 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc is a food wine that perfectly pairs with cheese goat and sheep milk cheeses and will work well with a variety of salads.
We love seeing photos of you and your friends enjoying
Cultivar Wines at your place and having fun at Cultivar SF & Cultivar Napa.
Tag us #CultivarWine @Cultivar_SF #NapaValleySF
Almost 10 years ago to the date, Riva Cucina hosted their first winemaker dinner at Riva Cucina with our dear friends, Julien and Elan Fayard. It was a special night indeed, as the four of us were just starting our new ventures. We now have the wonderful opportunity to bring this amazing team together again for another first winemaker dinner, this time at the newly-opened Marina wine bar, Cultivar San Francisco. Massi will be guest chef, pairing his cuisine with Julien's award-winning wines.
We hope you can join us for a wonderful evening, as we celebrate the opening of Cultivar SF and the wines of Julien Fayard.
With Spring here and summer entertaining just around the corner we wanted to share this great blog post from Kit of The Kittchen sharing her favorite Cheese pairings with Cultivar Wine. For any Cultivar Wine Club members, this will be great inspiration guiding you on what recent wine club releases to pair best with which cheese. Lifestyle blog.
See the entire blog post on The Kittchen. Happy pairing, we hope you enjoy this delicious entertaining inspiration and fun!
Photos courtesy of Kit of The Kittchen
We are thrilled to share with you a post by one of our Cultivar Wine Bloggers, Kelly of A Side of Sweet. This is a sneak peak of the post. Please visit A Side of Sweet for the entire recipe (Cheese, crackers, greenery and other yummyness featured below). Kudos Kelly on such a fabulous casual cheese & wine spread. We love it and are thrilled to share it with our readers.
"Putting Together a Fancy Wine & Cheese Spread"
Cheese :: "I figured this was my chance to go crazy and get a whole bunch of cheese! I definitely went overboard, which was fine by me because it meant I got to eat my favorite meal of cheese and crackers for dinner the next few nights."
"My first stop was Trader Joe’s where you can get some delicious options that are great for a budget. The I hit up Whole Foods. Although it’s a bit more expensive, the nice thing about Whole Foods is that the staff is super knowledgable and will go out of their way to help you pick the perfect cheese for your occasion. They also had a better selection of local cheeses. Here are the cheeses I got."
Creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah
Italian Truffle Cheese
Le Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream Soft Ripened Cheese
Assortment of Chèvre
Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese
Point Reyes Original Blue cheese
Spanish Tapa’s Assortment
Goat’s Milk Feta
Wine :: "I wanted to go with local wine, so I served Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from Cultivar Wines. Cultivar is a family-run winery in Napa Valley, California. They make their wines from some of the best grapes in Napa and it shows – when we opened our first bottle I almost fell over! This wine is some of the best I’ve had in California, even with all the trips to wine country that we’ve made since we moved here! I think it was one of the highlights of the night – our guests kept commenting on how good it was!"
To read more about the Charcuterie, Crackers and other tips for this amazing dish visit A Side Of Sweet.