2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 wide strips orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch crushed red chile flakes
1 4- to 5-lb. beef brisket
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/3 cup finely chopped celery, with leaves
1/3 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 14-1/2-oz. can peeled tomatoes, chopped, with their juices, plus enough low-salt chicken or beef broth to total 3 cups
2 cups peeled and diced parsnips (3/4-inch chunks)
2 cups peeled and diced carrots (3/4-inch chunks)
2 cups frozen pearl onions (don't thaw)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Brown the meat and aromatics:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Have ready a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Cut a large single-layer square of cheesecloth, and rinse it to remove any loose fibers. Spread the cheesecloth flat and pile the garlic, oregano, orange zest, cinnamon stick, and chile flakes in the center. Gather the edges to form a pouch and tie tightly with kitchen twine. Set aside. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. In the Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat thoroughly on all sides, turning with tongs, about 5 minutes per side. The meat should sizzle but not scorch; adjust the heat accordingly. Remove from the heat and transfer the meat to a large plate.
Pour off and discard all but 2 Tbs. of the drippings and return the pot to medium heat. Add the finely chopped onions, celery and carrots, season with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
Deglaze and braise:
Add the red-wine vinegar, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any remaining browned bits on the bottom of the pot if necessary. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 2 Tbs., about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, beef or chicken broth, and the cheesecloth pouch to the pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer. There should be at least 1 inch of liquid in the pot. Add more broth if needed. Return the meat to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated. Return the liquid to a simmer, and cover the pot with a sheet of parchment, pushing down so the paper touches the meat. Set the lid in place. (If your pot doesn't have a tight lid, cover the pot tightly with heavy-duty foil, crimping it well over the edges.) Slide the pot into the oven and cook for 2 hours, turning the brisket with tongs after 1 hour.
Turn the brisket over once more and then scatter the diced parsnips, carrots and pearl onions into the liquid around the roast. Continue braising, covered with the parchment and the lid, until the meat is fork-tender, about one hour longer. Test for doneness by spearing the meat toward the center with a carving fork. Pull out the fork carefully: If it lifts and holds the meat, continue cooking for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Make a sauce from the braising liquid:
Transfer the brisket and vegetables to a shallow platter (don't worry if a few chopped vegetables come along too); tent with foil. Strain the remaining liquid into a measuring cup, discarding the finely chopped vegetables and the cheesecloth sachet of flavorings. Let the fat rise to the surface and spoon it off. Wipe out the braising pot with a paper towel.
Return the strained juices to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Taste, and if the flavor seems weak, simmer vigorously over medium-high heat to reduce the volume and concentrate the flavor, 5 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley.
Carve the brisket across the grain into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Ladle about half the sauce over all, garnish with the vegetables, and serve, passing the remaining sauce at the table.
Make Ahead Tips
This dish can be served right away, but like most braises, it tastes even better when made ahead. Follow the method through the oven-braising, and transfer the meat and vegetables to a platter. Strain and degrease the juices as directed, wipe out the pot, and then return the meat and vegetables to the pot and pour the strained juices over all. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to three days. To serve, gently reheat the brisket in the pot until the juices are once again liquified. Transfer the meat and vegetables to a baking dish, moisten with some of the juices, cover, and heat in a 325°F oven until warmed through. While the meat and vegetables are warming, proceed with the recipe as directed to make a sauce from the juices.
photo: Eddie Berman
From Fine Cooking 74
, pp. web-only
March 12, 2008