MEET THE SOUS CHEF
NATHAN SHAPIRO, SOUS CHEF, ASHBY INN, PARIS, VIRGINIA
At Ashby Inn, where Nathan Shapiro is the sous chef, the entire kitchen staff numbers three, Shapiro included. The team has found ways to capitalize on their labor, and a pressure cooker is one shortcut.
Shapiro, who worked at the Inn at Little Washington before joining the team at Ashby Inn, makes stocks and beans in the pressure cooker, but also uses the appliance to braise beef brisket, cooking the meat with caramelized onions, star anise, tomato paste and beef stock until the meat is spoon-tender and aromatic.
A marvelous one-pot feast with a little pressure? Count us in.
TRACK THIS CHEF
DAY IN THE LIFE
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Shapiro's house is a 10-minute drive from the restaurant on country roads, where he encounters neither stop light nor sign. On days off, he and his wife sleep late, geek out on cookbooks and hang out with their Neapolitan mastiff, named Queen Boomshea Boomshea of Virginia I.
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Brine the Beef
Before cooking the brisket, Shapiro advises brining it, just as you would poultry, to ensure that the meat stays juicy and is well-seasoned. He then braises the beef with caramelized onions, star anise, tomato paste and beef stock until spoon-tender.
Shapiro is a huge fan of pressure cookers, which he uses both at the restaurant and at home. "I use it to make chicken stock, to cook beans and to braise brisket. Everything cooks in a fraction of the time." He also uses the pressure cooker to caramelize garlic, turning it super sweet and soft. "There are so many tricks and cool things you can do with a pressure cooker," he says.
Water, 4 cups
Light brown sugar, ¾ cup (lightly packed)
Kosher salt, ½ cup plus ½ teaspoon, divided
Brown mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon
Dried bay leaf, 1
Ice water, 4 cups
Beef brisket, 2 pounds (trimmed of fat)
Unsalted butter, 6 tablespoons
Sweet onion (such as a Vidalia), 1 large (halved and thinly sliced)
Star anise pods, 2
Tomato paste, ½ cup
Beef stock or broth, 2½ quarts (10 cups)
Heavy cream, 2 cups
Whole-grain mustard, ¼ cup
White hominy, one 16-ounce can (drained)
1. In a medium saucepan set over high heat, bring to a boil the:
- Light brown sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- Brown mustard seeds
- Bay leaf
Use the wooden spoon to stir occasionally. Once the sugar and salt are dissolved, turn off the heat and add the:
- Ice water
Immediately pour into a large bowl or airtight container. Once the ice is melted and the mixture is cool, add the brisket, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, remove the brisket from the brine (discard the brine) and set the brisket aside. In a pressure cooker set over medium-high heat, add:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Once melted, add the:
- Sliced onion
- Star anise
Cook, using the wooden spoon to stir frequently, until the onions are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the:
- Tomato paste
Once incorporated into the onion mixture, add the:
- Beef stock
- Reserved brisket
Place the lid on the pressure cooker and twist to lock shut. Bring the pressure cooker up to full pressure, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 hour. Turn off the heat, release the heat from the pressure cooker and set aside for 20 minutes.
3. In the medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the:
- Heavy cream
- Whole-grain mustard
Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the:
Season with the remaining:
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
4. After ensuring that all of the pressure has been released from the pressure cooker, open the lid and use tongs and a slotted spoon to transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Loosely tent the brisket with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
5. Use a large spoon to skim off any fat from the top of the braising liquid. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat and use a ladle to transfer 2 cups to a blender. While blending, incorporate in small amounts the remaining:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Add a little at a time until the sauce is emulsified. Slice the brisket against the grain and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with the sauce and serve the hominy on the side.