Sim­ple, ten­der, fla­vor­ful brisket

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FOOD - By Katie Work­man

As the Jewish hol­i­days ap­proach, it’s time for many of us to think about brisket.

My sis­ter who cooks for the Jewish hol­i­days every year (and plenty dur­ing the rest of the year) re­cently ad­mit­ted to me that she had never made brisket, that it in­tim­i­dated her. How to make sure it’s fla­vor­ful? How to know how long to cook it? It all made her anx­ious.

This brisket recipe is straight­for­ward, uses tra­di­tional sea­son­ings and fla­vors, and re­sults in a ten­der-but-still-slice­able piece of meat. Aside from set­ting aside a few hours for it to cook, it re­ally takes lit­tle work. Don’t you just love a main course that you can ig­nore while you’re pre­par­ing the rest of the din­ner?

Some recipes call for brown­ing a brisket first, which is nice if you have ex­tra time on your hands, but it’s not nec­es­sary for a per­fectly ten­der brisket. If pos­si­ble, make the brisket a day ahead. This ac­com­plishes sev­eral things: One, your main course is made and checked off the list. Two, you can scoop off any fat that has hard­ened on top of the sauce, re­sult­ing in a cleaner-tast­ing gravy. Three, cold brisket is eas­ier to slice, and then you re­heat the slices in the sauce. Four, the fla­vors have more time to meld and build (like soups and stews).

First-cut brisket means brisket with much of the fat cut off (but not all; you don’t want that). If you get a big­ger piece of meat and want to cut it into two pieces, you can overlap them in the pot. In gen­eral, brisket is re­silient.

Brisket is great served with mashed pota­toes or some sim­ple but­tered noo­dles.

BRISKET

Start to fin­ish: 4 to 4 ½ hours Servings: 8 to 10

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

2 tea­spoons olive oil 1 ta­ble­spoon minced gar­lic 1 ½ tea­spoons dried thyme 1 tea­spoon kosher or coarse salt 1?4 tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per

1 first-cut beef brisket (4 to 5 pounds) 2 cups chopped onions 4 large car­rots, peeled and thickly sliced

3 bay leaves 3 ta­ble­spoons tomato paste 1 cup low-sodium beef or chicken broth

1 (28-ounce) can crushed toma­toes in juice or puréed 1 cup red wine 2 ta­ble­spoons chopped Ital­ian (flat-leaf) pars­ley (op­tional), for gar­nish

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Pre­heat the oven to 325 F. Place the olive oil, gar­lic, thyme, salt and pep­per in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub the mix­ture all over the meat.

Place the brisket, fat side up, in a large casse­role or Dutch oven with a tight-fit­ting

lid. Toss in the onions, car­rots and bay leaves. Blend the tomato paste into the broth and then pour it over the meat and veg­eta­bles. Pour the crushed toma­toes and red wine on top. The liq­uid should cover the meat and most of the veg­eta­bles. Cover the casse­role and bake un­til

the meat is very ten­der, about 3 1?2 hours.

If you are serv­ing the brisket the next day:

Let it cool and then put the en­tire casse­role in the re­frig­er­a­tor. About an hour be­fore serv­ing, skim off any hard­ened fat, then take the meat out of the sauce and cut off any

ex­cess fat from the top of the meat. Slice the brisket across the grain, as thin or thick as you like, then neatly re­turn the sliced meat to the sauce. You can let it sit at room tem­per­a­ture for an hour be­fore re­heat­ing it, which will make the process go faster and the meat heat more evenly.

TODD COLE­MAN VIA AP

This Jan­uary 2012 photo shows brisket made with tra­di­tional sea­son­ings and fla­vors in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Katie Work­man.

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