Although many, if not most, Americans' first experience with brisket is in the form of barbecue, mine was in a Lower East Side apartment complex--on Passover. I was 17. It was my first experience with sweet and tangy slow-cooked brisket. Variations on home-cooked brisket are as varied as the Yiddish slang that peppers the Tri-State area. This recipe, reconstructed from memory, is a perfect entry-point into braising. Brisket has relatively flat, even surfaces, making browning easy. Pomegranate molasses and tomato paste give you a jump on enriching the sauce. So long as you don't cook at too high a heat, you'll yield a moist and tender brisket worthy of serving to anyone's bubbie.
2 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups unsalted beef stock
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
How to Make It
Preheat your oven to 275°.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
SEASON AND BROWN THE BRISKET
Season the brisket with 2 teaspoons of the black pepper and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Rub the seasoning into the flesh.
Add the oil to the Dutch oven. Swirl and look for the haze.
Brown the brisket for about 8 minutes on each side. We're looking for a thick, deep, crusty exterior. Transfer the brisket to a platter for a moment.
USE A MIREPOIX TO START THE BRAISING LIQUID
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato paste. Stir to incorporate, and cook 1 minute.
Add the beef stock, the pomegranate molasses, the thyme, and the bay leaves. Stir.
Return the brisket to the Dutch oven, tumble once, and cover.
Place the Dutch oven in the 275° oven and cook for about 2 1/2 hours. Turn it halfway through the cooking time. You have to be careful with the leaner "first cut" (that's the cut without the fatty cap), as it can shred to a dry oblivion if left unmonitored. It should be quite tender, but not fall-apart tender.
Cheat. Take a paring knife and saw off a small piece near the tip. That's yours to savor and evaluate.
It should be done. Take it out of the oven.
REST THE BRISKET
Splash in the vinegar, and, using a wooden spoon, swirl it into the pan sauce.
Let the brisket rest in the sauce for about 15 minutes, out of the oven and off the heat.
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Ready a platter.
Back to the Dutch oven: Remove the bay leaves from the sauce.
TURN THE BRAISING LIQUID INTO A TSTY SAUCE & SERVE
Skim the sauce of any surface fat and blend smooth using an immersion blender (if you have one; a standard blender works, too).
Now, slice the brisket into 1/2-inch slabs, against the grain, and fan onto a platter.
Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Douse with lots and lots of the sauce. Okay, all of the sauce.
Garnish with parsley.
Step by Step: Creating a Crusty Exterior
1) Season the meat with the spice mixture. This is the start of your crust.
2) Add the oil. You can't see the haze easily in the photo, but you'll notice an immediate viscosity breakdown--that's why it'll look all swirly.
3) Brown the brisket to the perfect color.
Cooking Light Mad Delicious
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