[UPDATED EVEN MORE] Country Music Television Artists of the Year Sing for Their Supper

The view flying into Nashville, TN.

UPDATE: The event was a great success!  Made some new friends and put out some killer food.  All photos are now up from our trip here.  CMT has posted video from behind-the-scenes here.  AOL Slashfood’s post is here, and Esquire here. We can’t wait to get back to Nashville again, and hope to welcome the gracious folks we met in the world of country to our home in Miami soon.

This Friday (Dec. 3) at 8/7c., Country Music Television (CMT) will air its Artists of the Year Awards, a night of performances and tributes – your basic awards show fare celebrating country music’s best of 2010. Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, the Zac Brown Band, Kid Rock, Maroon 5 (performing a cover of Taylor Swift’s Mine,) and friends will all be there.

Ready for a rub-down, Michael's brined brisket dries out in the walk-in at our catering facility the Chef's Market.

As if the field wasn’t dreamy enough, Kevin Costner will host as Michael joins fellow James Beard Award-winning chefs RJ Cooper (defeated on Iron Chef America last night, but in the most noble of fashions to newcomer Marc Forgione) and John Currence to present the star-studded event’s dinner.

Tomorrow night the broadcast will be taped, and we arrived in Nashville today to begin prepping bourbon barrel bung-smoked brisket for Michael’s course. Tonya from CMT had been holding onto the bungs for us for a couple weeks now.  She just had to brag on our last conference call that her office took on the pleasant scent of Eau du Maker’s Mark!  We were all jealous.

Make it at home with the following recipe, and stay tuned for photos and video as I document the trip’s proceedings.

Slow Smoked Brisket with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Pumpkin Panade and Aged Goat Cheese

Serves 10

1 whole, 6-8 pound beef brisket
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Mauldon sea salt for finishing
Pumpkin Seed Pesto (see recipe below)
Pumpkin Panade (see recipe below)
Bitter greens, such as arugula or dandelion, lightly dressed
Aged goat cheese for shaving

Wash brisket, pat dry and trim off any excess fat. Mix brown sugar and kosher salt with ½ gallon of warm water. Stir thoroughly to dissolve, and let the brine cool to room temperature. Place the brisket in a baking pan large enough to accommodate the beef and the brine. Pour the brine over the meat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 48 hours.

Remove the brisket from the brine, discarding the brine. Rinse the brisket under running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Place the brisket on a wire rack set over a sheet pan and refrigerate uncovered for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

Combine the paprika, cumin, sage, pepper and salt and rub the brisket liberally. Set up your smoker according to manufacturers instructions and smoke the beef brisket using your favorite wood for 2 hours at 200 degrees.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Remove the brisket from the smoker and place in a baking pan. Add 1 cup water, cover with plastic wrap, and then foil, and bake for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and let rest at least 30 minutes before serving. Drizzle the brisket with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with Mauldon sea salt. Serve with pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin panade and some greens with shaved aged goat cheese.

Pumpkin Panade

3 cups fresh pumpkin, diced small
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white onion, diced small (about 3 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 crusty sourdough baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces (6 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the dish
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
3 large egg yolks
6 ounces grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Toss the diced pumpkin with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring once for approximately 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and turn out into a large mixing bowl.

Put a medium sauté pan on high heat and add the butter. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion is golden brown and caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the roasted pumpkin, then add the bread cubes.

Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Also butter the dull side of a piece of foil large enough to cover the dish.

Heat the stock and the cream in a medium size pot over medium high heat with the pumpkin puree. While they are heating, whisk the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl until they increase slightly in volume. Gradually whisk the hot stock mixture into the yolks (do not add too quickly or the eggs will scramble.) Pour the mixture over the bread and pumpkin mixture. Add the pecorino cheese, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.

Pour the bread mixture into the buttered dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly on top. Cover the baking dish tightly with the foil, buttered side down.

Fill a roasting pan with 1/2-inch of water. Carefully place the baking dish in the water bath and put in the oven. Bake until the center jiggles slightly when you shake the dish, about 1 hour. Remove the panade from the oven and water bath, and remove the foil. Switch the oven to broil.

Stick the panade under the broiler for 3 minutes to brown the cheese. To serve, scoop the panade out with a spoon.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 cloves peeled garlic
¼ cup grated pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 bunch Italian parsley roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

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