Bring on the Brisket
When it came time to research Passover dishes this year, I called up Jeff, my cooking buddy in New York. Jeff and I met last year in New Orleans as volunteer chefs with CulinaryCorps, and we've been trading recipes and cooking stories ever since.
Last fall, around Yom Kippur, Jeff passed on his late Aunt Rita's recipe for marble cake, and I kept hearing from our mutual friends about his to-die-for brisket. His recipe, below, calls for relatively few ingredients and about four hours of cooking time. I love how the onions caramelize and become part of the gravy, a heady elixir with a tang, thanks to the Worcestershire sauce.
Jeff strongly recommends that you dare not slice the meat while warm and insists that the brisket is better the next day (please weigh in on this matter in the comments area). When the meat is cold, he says, it is easier to slice; after slicing, place in a pan as one unit, with the resulting fond and onion jam, gently reheating until warm.
The results are terrific, and I have found myself picking at the brisket pot like a thief in the night, despite my very occasional hankering for a pot roast. Good stuff, Uncle Jeff!
As is the case with other home cooking classics, there's a brisket style and technique for every day of the year. Share your tried-and-true brisket tricks and tips learned over the years, and if you've got a great brisket story to share, even better.
P.S. Passover begins the evening of Saturday, April 19, so there's time to experiment if you're game.
Today's Eco-Bite: The 2007 Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary is locavore, a word coined in San Francisco in 2004 to describe people who eat food that is grown or raised within a 100-mile radius of where they live.
* My Food section article on a 100-Mile Thanksgiving.
Uncle Jeff's Brisket
From chef Jeff Seligman, New York, NY
6 -7 pound brisket (first cut)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large onions, sliced very thin
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups beef stock (Jeff uses College Inn brand; I had great results with Savory Choice liquid beef concentrate)
1 cup red wine that you enjoy drinking
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in a large 7-13 quart oven-proof casserole (enamel-coated is ideal; a roasting pan with foil also works).
Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Sear the brisket in the pot until the outside is browned on both sides (You may have to cut the brisket in half).
Remove beef from pan and set aside.
Saute onions over medium heat until soft, then add carrots and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add salt as needed. Add garlic and cook for about one minute, without burning. Add wine to deglaze bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan and bring up heat to high. Add 1 cup of the beef stock, plus the Worcestershire sauce.
Return meat (and accumulated juices) to the pan, turn off heat and cover.
Place pan in oven. Cook for three to four hours (if meat is cut in half and stacked, at the two-hour mark, do your best to rotate the meat in the pot).
Remove pot from oven and allow meat to cool. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
To reheat: Remove beef from pot, than remove congealed fat from the sauce. Slice beef across the grain. Add remaining cup of beef stock and approximately 1 cup of water to the pan and heat along with meat. Reheat at 325 degrees, covered, until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Makes 10-12 servings.
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