Monday, 18 January 2010

Braised Beef Brisket

This summer we signed up for a meat CSA, instead of ordering our usual quarter of a cow for the fall. This turned out to be a good way to get a more varied selection of meats, although it was no doubt more expensive. One of the things we got in our last delivery was a beef brisket, which I had never cooked before.

Brisket is a tough, flattish piece from the front chest of the cow, full of connective tissue so rather gelatinous. Being an awkward shape, it is usually rolled and tied. Obviously, it's a prime candidate for braising, which is what I did. The result was meltingly tender with a very rich and flavourful gravy. Most of the recipes called for cooking it a day ahead, skimming off the fat once it is cooled, then reheating it. Since a good sized roast plus two people equals more than one meal, I did indeed reheat the majority of it. However, I found it was quite lean - there wasn't that much fat on it. No doubt it will depend on your particular cut.

6 to 8 servings
6 1/2 to 7 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Braised Beef Brisket
Prepare the Seasonings:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or pickle brine
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (less if using brine)
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dill seed, ground
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme

Mix the vinegar with the dry spices in a small bowl or jar, and mix or shake until blended. Set aside.

Prepare the Roast & Vegetables:
4 medium onions (450 grams, 1 pound)
3 or 4 stalks of celery
2 medium carrots
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 medium brisket roast, rolled and tied (4 to 5 pounds; about 2 kilos)
1 tablespoon arrowroot

Peel and cut the onions in half, and then slice the halves. Wash, trim and chop the celery. Peel and slice the carrots. Peel and slice the garlic.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet, and gently sauté the onions, celery and carrots in them until fairly soft, but don't let them brown. Put them in a roasting pan that will hold the brisket and vegetables fairly snuggly and which has a lid.

Next, brown the brisket on both sides, then lay it on top of the carrots and celery. You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan.

Turn on the oven to 275°F.

Finally, sauté the onions until quite soft and starting to brown a little. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute or two. Lift the onions from the pan and arrange them around the roast as evenly as possible. Mix up the spice and vinegar mixture again, and pour it over the brisket.

Cover the roasting pan, and put it in the oven. Braise the brisket for 5 1/2 to 6 hours, until very tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove the brisket from the oven, and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, remove the vegetables and accumulated juices from the pan, and purée them in a food processor or blender with the arrowroot. Put them in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the starch thickens and clarifies. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary.

Slice the brisket and serve it with the gravy; mashed potatoes are an ideal accompaniment. Brisket reheats very well, so this can be made a day ahead and the sliced meat reheated ( in the oven) in the gravy.


Joanne said...

I LOVE brisket but have never seen it prepared this way. Looks delicious.

Anonymous said...

I'll give it a try on Sunday. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I really feel hungry!


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