Sunday Dinner Dreams (recipe: Braised Beef Brisket)
Another Sunday rolled around. Another Sunday Dinner in the making. Since we’ve become empty-nesters, the number of plates set on the dining room table for Sunday Dinner varies. Sometimes it’s only two and sometimes the table is slap full.
In my dream world, extended family would live nearby and Sunday Dinner would be a time the whole family honored and anticipated. People would bring their favorite dish to share. You could count on Aunt Martha for Banana Pudding, Cousin Joyce Ann for Fried Chicken and Uncle Bubba for biscuits and cornbread. Special tables would be set up to serve as a buffet for the gracious multitude of food. Gallons of Southern Sweet Tea would find a home in the cooler filled with ice. The ice cream churn would be standing at attention ready to accept the cream, sugar and vanilla. The young ‘uns would gather outside, after they’d changed from their Sunday clothes, and divide up in teams for a lawn game which would keep them occupied while the adults got the food ready. Cousins would grow up with cousins. Close family friends would be included in Sunday Dinner and would be called Aunt and Uncle by the children even though they weren’t blood relatives. Hound dogs would traipse in the yard. All Southern dreams include hound dogs.
Everyone would be called inside when the food was ready and would stand silently as Granddaddy blessed the food. ”Amen” was said in unison. People would then proceed to fill their plates and all manner of gushing over the food would be in order.
“Will you look at those Lady Finger Peas? I can’t wait to dig in to those. Lucille, where on earth did you find them?”
“Oh, land sake’s alive! I do declare that I could eat my weight in Chicken and Dumplings! Did you make those, Voncille?”
“I’ve got my eye on Granny’s Red Velvet Cake! I think I best go hide me a piece right now.”
Everyone ate and talked and laughed and loved. They all genuinely cared about each other.
My dream stops before the cleaning up starts. I like it that way. We can worry about the clean-up later. I imagine the mature ladies would be in the kitchen washing the dishes and mopping the sweat from their foreheads with the handkerchiefs they stored in their bosoms. “Whew, it is HOT weather”, someone would say. ”Sho’ is. I have suffered in this heat”, another would comment.
The long-standing tradition of Sunday Dinner has fallen prey to a changing society. Families often lives miles apart. Sunday is a regular work day for some. People are mobile and don’t lite in one place long enough to form a connection with people around them. Susan Lutz has a blog named Eat Sunday Dinner…Or Something Like It dedicated to bringing back the tradition of Sunday Dinner. I’m not alone in my love of the tradition.
Regardless of the frequency or number of plates involved, I relish Sunday Dinner. I’ll hold on to the tradition. In my dream, Sunday Dinner lives forever even if I’m one of the mature ladies mopping their foreheads.
Y’all come see us!
Braised Beef Brisket
Once the brisket is prepped, you pop it in the oven and forget it for 4 hours except for the occasional basting which makes it perfect for Sunday Dinner because you’re freed up to tend to other things. You can’t really forget about it because your nose will keep reminding you. It smells heavenly while it’s cooking. The sweet and tangy sauce has a slight BBQ-y flavor with a thin, smooth consistency.
2 1/2 pound beef brisket
3 medium sweet onions, peeled and sliced
4 to 5 stalk of celery, wash and sliced including tops
2 medium or one large garlic heads, tops sliced off
3 carrots, washed and cut into pieces
1 pound tomatoes, diced
8 ounces tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 shakes Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Place onion, celery, garlic and carrots in a roasting pan. There’s no need to peel the carrots or take the skins off the garlic. I peel the onions only because the peelings come off when you slice them, anyway. We’re going to strain all the vegetables out of the juice. I splurge on a disposable pan when I’m cooking a dish that has sugar and a long cook time. Sometimes that sugar gets burned on and it’s almost impossible to get it off.
Remove the brisket when done and strain the liquid. Return the liquid to the pan and cook on medium high heat until reduced by half which will intensify the flavor. Dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in cold water, add to the sauce, continue cooking until thickened.
Trim the fat cap from the brisket, slice on the bias. Serve over grits and top with sauce. Goat cheese is a nice addition to the grits. I was out of goat cheese and used grated Parmesan cheese instead.