Slow-Braised Brisket with Rosemary, Shallots, and Red Wine

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    8

    Generous Servings

Appears in

Whenever I am asked what is the best way to make a brisket, I am stumped. Sure, there are techniques I always rely on. I sear it thoroughly, then slowly oven-braise the burnished meat with aromatics. When it emerges deeply flavored and fork-tender, I let It rest a long while in the pan sauce, reabsorbing the rich juices lost during cooking, to eliminate the dryness endemic to the cut. The sauce, defatted first, is pureed, then cooked down to concentrate the luscious flavors.

But beyond that, this iconic homey Jewish meat lends itself to so many variations. Sometimes I go traditional with a savory bubbe brisket, a straightforward, rustic dish requiring no advance marinating, like Easy Onion-Braised Brisket. Other times—especially for big holiday dinners—I like to tinker the humble to the haute.

This brisket, like the Moroccan-Flavored Brisket recipe that follows it, is the latter: a pull-out-all-the-stops celebration. While it does not require much more work than many, it does entail advance planning.

Begin a day or two before the seder so the garlic-rosemary studding can infuse the meat for at least eight hours. The next day, simmer the brisket extra slowly with plenty of shallots, red wine, and tomato to develop even more profound flavors. If possible, chill it overnight in the gravy so the fat can be easily lifted off. The day of the seder all that’s left to do is reheat the juicy meat in the pan sauce, enlivened with a fresh sparkle of herbs.

No, it’s not bubbe cuisine. But my bubbes would have savored every bite.

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Ingredients

For the Flavor Paste

  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ÂĽ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A first- or second-cut beef brisket, 4 to 5 pounds, trimmed of excess fat, wiped with a damp paper towel, and patted dry

For the Braising

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped shallots
  • 2 cups full-bodied dry red wine
  • 1 or 2 canned whole plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Three 3-inch fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped leaves
  • Four 4-inch fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon leaves
  • 3 cups Beef Stock, or good quality, low-sodium purchased
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Prepare the flavor paste: process the paste ingredients in a blender or mini food processor to a coarse puree. Make a slit in the fat side of the brisket with the point of a small, sharp knife. Insert a little of the paste into the slit, using your fingers and the knife tip to push it in as far as possible. In the same way, insert some of the paste all over the top, bottom, and sides of the brisket, spacing them out as evenly as you can. Rub the remaining paste into the outside of the meat. Place the brisket in a large, plastic resealable bag or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for a minimum of 8 and up to 24 hours, so the flavorings can penetrate the meat.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Scrape off the paste and pat the meat dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 275°F. In a Dutch oven or flameproof roasting pan large enough to hold the brisket snugly heat the oil over medium-high heat. (If using a roasting pan, you may need to set it over two burners.) Add the brisket, and brown well on both sides (this will take about 10 minutes in all). Sear to caramelize the meat, but don’t let it develop a hard, brown crust, which might make the meat tough or bitter. Transfer the brisket to a platter and set aside. (Or sear under the broiler: place the brisket fat side up, on a foil-lined broiler pan, under a preheated broiler. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until browned. Don’t allow it to develop a hard, dark crust. Move the meat around as necessary, so it sears evenly.)

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil remaining in the pan, and add the shallots. Sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of the wine, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Boil the mixture until the pan liquid is reduced to a glaze. Add the tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs, beef stock, and the remaining wine. Boil for a few minutes, then lower the heat to a simmer.

Salt and pepper the brisket to taste on both sides, and add it to the pan, fat side up. Spoon the vegetables and pan liquid all over the meat. Cover the pan tightly (use heavy-duty foil if you don’t have a lid for the roasting pan) and place in oven.

Braise the meat, basting with the pan sauce and vegetables every half-hour, for 3 to 3½ hours or more, until the meat is fork-tender.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate, covered, overnight, in the braising liquid.

When ready to serve the meat: scrape off all the solid fat from the surface of the meat and braising liquid. Transfer the brisket to a platter and cut into thin slices across the grain at a slight diagonal.

Prepare the gravy: warm the braising liquid to room temperature. Remove thyme and rosemary sprigs and discard. In a food processor or a blender in batches, puree the pan solids with some of the braising liquid. Return this mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. If the gravy is too thin, boil it down to desired consistency over high heat. Stir in the rosemary and thyme leaves.

Return the sliced brisket to the pan and reheat slowly, either on top of the stove or in a 325°F oven, until heated through.

Arrange the meat on a serving platter with some of the gravy spooned over the meat. Pass the rest of the gravy in a sauce boat at the table.

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