This is great comfort food for a cold evening.
If you want something inexpensive that feeds an army and is easy to make, there is nothing better than a beef brisket. Even though it takes time in the oven, it's idle time. Make it on a day you are going to be home for a few hours and, if you can, wait and serve it the next day.
With a little bit of time and the proper cooking method, even the toughest piece of meat can be made palatable. Brisket is one of the least tender cuts of beef, but it can be made tender and the flavor is tough to beat.
What is brisket?
Brisket is a beef cut taken from the breast section beneath the first five ribs, behind the foreshank.
Fresh brisket is an inexpensive boneless cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues achieve tenderness. The long piece is cut in half for marketing. You'll find it sold as a flat cut or a point cut. The flat cut is leaner, but the point cut has more flavor due to a bit of extra fat (called the deckel).
In traditional Jewish cooking, brisket is most often braised as a pot roast, especially as a holiday main course usually served at Rosh Hashannah, Passover, and Shabbat. For reasons of economics, it was historically one of the more popular cuts of beef among Ashkenazi Jews. In current times, however, brisket is most often associated with barbecue-style cooking.
I have to confess that the only other time I've had brisket was at school and it was disgusting. A boiled to death grey mass. We usually made a bee line back to the room for cheese and crackers. This is nothing like that, for you do brown it first and then cook it in a delicious tomato sauce for around 3 1/2 hours.
Once you have made this fairly basic and delicious recipe, you can improve on it and make it your own. You can add red wine, or beer, make a rub with salt , garlic and paprika, or add mustard and light brown sugar. There are many a recipes for brisket so whatever you do will be considered original.
I will be posting an oven braised barbecued beef brisket in the country blog in a couple of days...don't miss it., It's now my favorite way!
yield: Makes 4 (main course) or 6 (as part of hash)
active time: 35 min
total time: 4 hr
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (2-pounds) piece beef brisket (preferably second-cut)
2 large white onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup beef stock or reduced-sodium beef broth
1 (28-ounces) can crushed tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third.
Heat oil in a wide 5-to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Season brisket with 1 tsp each of salt and pepper, then brown brisket, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add vinegar, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Return brisket to pot, nestling it in braising liquid (liquid will not cover meat). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and braise in oven until fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Brisket is best if made at least 1 day ahead (and up to 3 days) and chilled (covered once cool). Skim off fat before reheating.
Adapted from Gournet Magazine