Brandt Beef Offered at Zel’s Del Mar
DEL MAR, California–First, there was the book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal (2001), then the movie Food, Inc. (2008). With so much attention on diet, chemicals in our food sources, and the hope for healthier alternative food choices, emerges Brandt Beef, the 100% natural beef from Holsteins raised in California’s Imperial Valley.
Since the 1990s, these unique cows have been nurtured humanely and naturally without hormones or antibiotics, eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Brandt Beef cows are fed vegetarian, corn-based diets. The Brandt Family understands we are what we eat.
Listed as the beef of choice on some of San Diego’s more upscale restaurants’ menus, I did not investigate Brandt Beef’s quality difference until my recent dining experience at Zel’s Del Mar. There, I visited the chef, Andy Johnson, hard at work in his chaotic kitchen, flipping too many Brandt Beef sliders to count! But I did manage a take a snap of the rib eye and slider before they took their respective places on his jammed-packed stove.
Zel’s Del Mar is Definitely Happening, maybe because it’s the new kid on the block, maybe because it’s owned by (pictured at right) Jennifer Powers and her husband Greg Glassman, honorary grandson of the San Diego/Tijuana Jewish community’s legendary Zel Camiel (for whom the restaurant is affectionately named), maybe because no item on their American bistro-style menu is priced over $20, or maybe because the restaurant’s meat is simply a cut above – that’s the Brandt Beef difference.
Whatever the reason for the quick popularity of Zel’s Del Mar, it’s a family affair all around and one that Greg and Andy tout. They feel passionately about the Brandt family’s commitment to their “farm to fork” innovative processing operation. Eric Brandt inspects each cow and tags it for specific customers, while Mark Brandt manages the farming operation in Brawley, CA. There, he raises the alfalfa, later mixed with corn, to provide each cow with a natural diet. We are what we eat.
After my hearty beef experience at Zel’s Del Mar, I investigated local sources of Brandt Beef because it shouldn’t be exclusive to restaurants. I discovered it’s available at Jonathan’s Market in La Jolla and Harvest Ranch Markets in El Cajon, Encinitas, and Del Mar. So buy I did. Brisket. For Shabbat. We are what we eat. Here’s the Brandt Family’s recipe for the best brisket ever!….B’Tayavon
Best Brisket from Brandt Beef
1 (3-pound) Brandt Beef brisket, first-cut or flat-half trimmed of any excess fat
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
One 15- oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/3 cup raisins
5 black peppercorns
1 allspice berry
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pat the brisket dry and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or braising pot. Sear the brisket until it is browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and cook the onion, stirring a few times, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the vinegar, the raisins, peppercorns, and allspice and stir to combine well. Bring mixture to a boil, return brisket and any accumulated juices to the pot, spoon some of the tomato-vinegar mixture over the brisket, cover tightly, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the brisket is fork tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove the brisket from the oven, transfer the meat to a cutting board, and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes or, if serving later, cover and refrigerate the meat and sauce for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, cut the meat against the grain into 1/4- inch thick slices. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar into the warm sauce. Return the sliced brisket to the sauce until heated through and serve.
Zel’s Place is located at 1247 Camino Del Mar. Visit ZelsDelMar.com
For more recipes and information about Brandt Beef, visit BrandtBeef.com
Lynne Thrope can be contacted at Lab4Us@gmail.com