In Gail Zweigenthal’s Letter from the Editor, in the April ’98 issue of Gourmet Magazine, she gives this incredible recipe for the softest, most delicious braised brisket, perfect for the seder or any Yom Tov meal. I have made this recipe so many times that my copy is practically illegible, save for the words that I have written over the print with a pen in my own handwriting. The title says 8 hours – that is only the baking time, there is a 24-48 hour marinating time so plan accordingly.
INGREDIENTS (and there are many):
- 4-5 lb. second cut beef brisket (the first cut is too dry)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 large carrots
- 3 celery ribs
- 10 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp salt
- two 750 ml bottles of dry white wine
- 6 large onions
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lg vine ripened tomatoes
- 1 dried ancho or chipotle chili (use what you can find)
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I omit)
Chop onion, carrots and celery and crush garlic cloves with a knife or in the food processor. With a mortal and pestle coarsely crush peppercorns.
In a non-reactive dish just large enough to hold the roast, combine marinade ingredients, top with meat and pour the wine over it. The wine should almost cover the entire roast. Cover well with silver foil and marinate in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Slice 6 onions crosswise into 1/4-inch rings. In a large heavy skillet, cook onion and sugar in oil, mixing occasionally until onions are tender and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool onion and reserve half, covered and chilled to serve with the roast.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Coarsely chop tomatoes, and wearing rubber gloves, seed the chile and cut into 1/2-inch pieces with a scissor. Transfer the meat to a deep roasting pan, just large enough to hold it and scatter tomatoes, chili, garlic, black pepper and nutmeg and remaining cooked onions around the meat. Drain marinade in a strainer set over a bowl since you will be using the liquid for baking the roast, while finding another use for the vegetables or discarding them. Pour enough marinade liquid over the meat to almost cover, reserving the rest to add during cooking.
Cover the pan with a double thickness of foil and bake for 7 hours checking periodically to add more marinade liquid if necessary to keep the roast almost covered at all times.
At this point you can continue the recipe or cool and chill for a day or 2 in the fridge before continuing.
Braise brisket, uncovered, in the oven, basting occasionally with pan juices and allowing the liquid to reduce to a sauce, about 1 hour. Reheat reserved onions until heated through.
Transfer brisket to a cutting board and cut across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Skim fat from pan juices and mash vegetables into juices with a fork. Arrange meat on a deep platter with sauce and onions.