Brisket for the (High) Holidays

Brisket for the (High) Holidays
Brisket for the High Holidays

Growing up, brisket was synonymous with the Jewish high holidays, especially when Grandma was cooking. Over the past few years, though, I’ve noticed that brisket seems to be, shall we say, off-trend. And for really no good reason; insofar as meat goes, it’s relatively cheap per pound, it’s not a complicated dish to prepare, and it’s a crowd pleaser.

So I decided to bring brisket back for Rosh Hashanah dinner this year, ultimately slightly adapting a recipe from one of my favorite sources, Food and Wine. Why did I pick it? The ‘shrooms. Yes, seriously. I have a theory that dried mushrooms – rehydrated so you use both the mushrooms and mushroom-infused reserved liquid – make everything better. I dare you to prove me wrong.

Along with the brisket, I served an egg soufflé (made by the hubby based on a long-standing family recipe), grilled flat bread topped with thinly sliced apples, figs, goat cheese, and parmesan, tsimmos (which I wrote about previously, here), apple and almond salad, challah (round and raisin for the New Year), and, of course, apples and honey.

But back to the meaty star of the show. Make sure you have a large enameled cast-iron casserole that you can use both on the stove, where browning is a crucial step, and in the oven. I love love love my Le Creuset and think it’s one of the best cast iron options out there. It’s pricey but totally worth it (and an incredible item to put on a wedding registry, which is how the hubby and I ended up with ours). Also keep in mind that, while easy, the recipe requires quite a bit of cooking time. Plan accordingly.

And here’s the recipe I used, with my slight adaptations included. For the original Food and Wine recipe, click here.

(High) Holiday Brisket

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • One 4-pound flat cut brisket
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (1 ounce)
  • 1 ¾ cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 2 cups chopped canned Italian tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic

Procedure

In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper with the thyme and paprika. Rub the seasonings all over the brisket.

In a medium heatproof bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with hot water and set aside until softened, about 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid; rinse and coarsely chop them. Reserve the soaking liquid.

Heat the oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the brisket, fat side down, and cook over moderately high heat until well-browned, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a platter and pour off any excess fat from the casserole. Add the vermouth and chicken stock (or broth), then pour in the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the casserole and stir in the tomatoes, porcini, and bay leaves.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Return the brisket to the casserole, fat side up. Scatter the onions and garlic over the meat and into the liquid and bring to a boil. As soon as the liquid boils, cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes. Spoon the onions on top of the brisket and cook for about 30 minutes longer to brown the onions. Push some of the onions back into the liquid, cover and braise for about 1 more hour, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Transfer the brisket to a carving board and cover loosely with foil. On the stove, simmer the sauce for a few minutes, until it is deeply flavored, then season with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves. Carve the brisket across the grain into 3/8 inch thick slices and arrange on a large platter. Spoon the sauce and onions over the meat and serve.

Make ahead: The seasoned brisket can be refrigerated overnight before cooking. If cooking the brisket ahead, let the meat cool in the sauce before refrigerating. Skim the fat from the surface and slice the brisket, then rewarm the meat in the sauce.

Happy and Healthy New Year!

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