Brisket brisket brisket brisket yum! Sorry about that. It’s just that I’ve never made brisket before. My mother-in-law does (and she makes a mean one, too. Way better than mine turned out. Grr.)
Anyway. I always worried that if I made brisket it would come out tough or bland, so while I order it often in restaurants and stare longingly at it in the butcher’s case, I’d never tried to make it myself.
Then I saw this beautiful cut behind the counter for less than $5 a pound. How could I say no?
Could you? This four-and-a-half pound behemoth cost me just over fifteen dollars and made a great middle-of-Passover meal. With a side of broccoli and roasted red potatoes, I almost didn’t miss the bread.
Ingredients (serves four with leftovers)
3 pounds brisket
2 T olive oil
salt and spices to taste (I used cayenne)
1 pound onion*
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 pound celery
6-8 cloves garlic
3 T brown sugar
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
Most briskets are bigger than three pounds. Mine was four and a half, and some of the others at the butcher weighed in at a whopping eight pounds. So you’ll want to cut it down to three. Three pounds is also the most that comfortably fits in a 9×13 pan, and that’s what I used to cook this. Once you’ve cut it down to size, trim the surface fat by running a knife under the fat layer parallel to the skin.
Heat the oven to 300°F
It really doesn’t need the fat to be tender, I promise. Salt and season the meat generously, then heat the oil in your biggest frying pan.
And curse up a storm when this happens.
Thanks to my teflon fingers (seriously, I grab things right out of 400°F ovens all the time, and only rarely end up with eensy little blisters on my fingers. Don’t you try it, though.), I managed to brown it pretty well. Then you’ll want to arrange your celery and carrot in a layer on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Plop the brisket on top of them, and toss the garlic cloves in.
Look at all that beautiful caramelized onion. Unfortunately, Mr. B smelled it from across the apartment and walked around lighting incense making loud hacking and gagging noises until I threw all that lovely onion away. Oh well. He’s allowed to be picky about one thing; goodness knows I’m picky, too.
Pour the beef stock and wine in around the brisket, dust the top of the meat with brown sugar, and float a bay leaf or two in the pan.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for two hours. Pull it out, flip the meat, and cover tightly again and bake for another two hours. That’s four hours of covered baking.
In the end, you have a meltingly tender piece of meat that has absorbed every flavor you cook it with rather nicely. Were it not Passover I would have used a bottle of beer in place of the wine, and I think tomato would have been amazing, so those of you who are not allergic may want to throw in a can of crushed whole tomatoes and see how that turns out. And hey, have some onions for me.
I had some of the leftovers today for lunch, despite my hate- and fear-filled relationship with the microwave at work. (There was an incident involving some nukerwave popcorn. The fire department was called.) Even the soft cooked carrots reheated nicely, and I think for a first try it came out rather well.
Next time, I will use beer. And maybe some ketchup. And all of my dignity, it will be gone.
I’m okay with that.