This dish is an attempted replication of the spectacular, life-changing breakfast I tasted a couple of weeks ago at Gill Street Cafe in Mosman Park.
Sometimes when dining out, something amazing happens – a dish arrives at the table that not only demands visual appreciation of its composition, but upon that first tantalizing mouthful and exploratory mingling of all those components together, you come to the conclusion that even Marco Pierre White himself could not improve the dish in front of you.
It was that good. Life-changing.
(I just wish I was the one who’d ordered it.)
So when staying with friends in Narrogin last week, I set about recreating Gill Street’s rösti with pulled beef brisket, spinach, poached egg perched on top and a generous dollop of sriracha hollandaise – the brunch equivalent of the Sistine Chapel masterpiece.
The first element requiring attention was the beef brisket, the cut of meat from lower chest of the animal (roughly equivalent to lamb breast).
From my experience, I don’t think it’s a cut of meat that’s terribly well-known here in Australia (I could be wrong, I just haven’t seen it featured in many publications).
For years I didn’t even know what a brisket was – I just knew that Jewish people in American sitcoms cooked it with reverence for special occasions.
It’s a cost-effective, large rolled piece of meat that benefits from slow cooking, to end up with that melting tenderness that can be eased apart with a spoon. There is a large layer of fat on the outer piece but don’t remove this – fat equals flavour! – as it renders down beautifully when the brisket is seared in a pan prior to cooking, and keeps the meat succulent during its long stint in the oven.
While the cooking of the brisket was straightforward and met with success, my initial experiments with rösti were a royal kerfuffle. Gill Street headlines theirs as ‘bubble and squeak rösti’, and upon investigatory dissection this appeared to involve zucchini, onions, spring onions (?) and the requisite potatoes.
I endured several batches of my rösti mixture totally falling apart when I tried to flip them. Even after making modifications with fortifying flour and egg in between, I was still ending up with messy piles of oily, half-cooked grated vegetables. Eventually, when I started to seriously stress that my epic re-creation would be thwarted, I figured that the temperature of the oil was the culprit (or rather me, who hadn’t turned it up high enough) and then finally started producing some edible specimens.
Let it be said, this dish does require some forward planning in terms of the components and there were some time management issues that had to be overcome (ensuring freshly poached eggs were ready just as the spinach was wilted, that everything was assembled while still hot and diners were wrangled in from all over the house).
But boy, it was definitely worth it when I saw that little masterpiece in front of me – even if it was only a reproduction.
rösti with pulled beef brisket, spinach, poached egg & sriracha hollandaise
2kg quality beef brisket, rolled (ask your butcher to do this for you)
4 onions, sliced
1 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
5 whole cloves
4 medium-sized waxy potatoes, washed and grated
2 zucchini, washed and grated
1 onion, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
rice bran oil
1 bunch baby spinach leaves, doused in boiling water until just wilted
freshly poached eggs (1 per serving)
¾ cup store-bought hollandaise sauce
1 tsp sriracha sauce
Preheat your oven to 150°C.
Place a large, heavy based pan over high heat and carefully add the meat. You want to brown the brisket all over so turn in increments, letting it sit for a few minutes each time and seasoning with salt and pepper. You shouldn’t need to add any oil because the fat on the meat will start rendering down at high heat but add a tablespoon of olive oil if the brisket starts to stick.
Once the meat is seared all over, remove from the pan and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions to the residual beef fat in the pan (feel free to add a little olive oil if needed). The onions will begin to sweat and naturally de-glaze the pan, picking up those lovely sticky bits from the browned meat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.
Add the rosemary and thyme (don’t bother picking the leave, use stalks and all), bay leaves, cloves and stock to the pan. Stir through and bring the stock to a simmer. Evenly distribute the herbs and onions on the bottom of the pan to make a bed for the meat.
Return the brisket to the pan and cover with a lid or tightly-fitted double piece of aluminium foil. Place in the oven for 6 hours, checking halfway through and basting with the pan juices. I uncovered my brisket for the last 2 hours to allow the outside to become deeply coloured and caramelised but if you do so, remember to check it periodically to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Once tender, remove from the oven and rest until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the pan and pull apart using a fork, discarding any cooking twine as you go.
Skim any fat from the surface of the cooking juices, return to the pan to the stove and bring to the boil. Simmer slowly for 15 – 20 minutes until reduced. Add the pulled beef to the pan and stir to coat in the sauce. Taste and season if necessary.
For the rösti, toss the grated vegetables with a generous pinch of sea salt and place in a large sieve. Cover with a tea towel and let sit over a bowl for 30 minutes, allowing the salt to draw out the moisture.
Use your hands to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible, then transfer to a medium bowl and mix through the beaten egg.
Add enough rice bran oil to a large frying pan to shallow-fry the rösti and place over medium-high heat.
Spoon half-cup portions of mixture into the pan, using the back of the spoon to spread and flatten each in to a 10 centimetre (4 inch) disc.
Cook the rösti for 3 – 4 minutes each side until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a baking tray lined with paper towels and place in warm oven while you cook the remaining batches (adding more oil in between if necessary).
Combine the sriracha with the hollandaise sauce and refrigerate until required.
When ready to serve, stack two rösti on a warm plate. Arrange wilted spinach leaves on top, followed by a portion of pulled brisket, a poached egg and a generous dollop of the sriracha hollandaise.