braised beef brisket
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I’ve discovered braising thanks to the lovely Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat book by Samin Nosrat and I can’t get enough. I’ve braised pork and gammon and lamb and now the time has come for beef.
As much as I love pork or lamb stews I was never that keen on beef cooked this way, bourguignon or otherwise. ‘Boiled beef!’ - I’d snort explosively; meat soggy and dry at the same time is surely not to be appreciated. I would waver in my derision when it came to pastrami and salt beef, but I was in denial of the cooking method. ‘Cured, that’s different’ - I’d state decisively and refuse to know.
As so many times before, I was proved devastatingly wrong – it is to be much appreciated if treated right. Braising is a poor man’s trick, and beef brisket is not a cut of choice. Traditional staple on St Patrick’s Day or for Passover, those folk did not historically feast on roast sirloins. It’s a tough old boot, is brisket and so it requires coaxing into tenderness, for hours, plied with sweet wine.
The choice of aromatics is free but I’ll say this particular selection made very good sauce. And sauce is a must: sweet wine or not, it will still be on the dry side when sliced and treated as a roast joint. We had the leftovers shredded and turned into tacos and that was the perfect follow-up to a glorious dish.
braised beef brisketServings: 4Time: 5 hours plus marinating overnight
- 1kg (over 2 pounds) beef brisket
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
- 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3 medium onions, sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp. allspice berries
- 1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. dried wild mushrooms
- ½ bottle (2 cups) sweet dessert wine
1.Marinate the brisket a day before cooking: season it generously with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the mustard seeds and place in a large bowl. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and arrange the pieces over the meat. Cover it with half the sprigs of thyme and press into the meat. Cover the bowl with a tightly fitting upturned plate and refrigerate.
2.Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking and scrape off the mustard, garlic and thyme, reserve a few garlic pieces. Heat the oil over high heat in a large ovenproof casserole with a lid. Place the meat in the casserole and brown thoroughly, searing for at least 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.
3.Add the onions, the reserved garlic, star anise, bay leaf, peppercorns and mushrooms and stir fry until lightly caramelised, about 10-15 minutes.
4.Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3.
5.When the onions are lightly browned, return the meat into the pan and place on top of the onions. Add the wine and enough water to come up halfway up the brisket; bring to the boil. Cover with the lid and transfer to the oven.
6.Roast it for 4-4 ½ hours turning it over every 30 minutes. Take the lid off after the first hour and continue to braise uncovered. Top up with water if the liquid cooks off too much but make sure there is only thickened sauce left by the end of cooking.
7.Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm. Strain the sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil; cook for a few minutes to reduce it to spooning consistency.
8.Slice the brisket across the grain and spoon the sauce over it.