Mr. P's Magic Beef Brisket

3 years ago

brisketEvery good husband should have a repertoire of amazing, manly dishes he can whip up for his doting wife when she’s had a bad day, feeling sick, or just unmotivated to cook.  My husband, Rob (aka Mr. President, Honeybee, Mr. P, Robbie P, or RP) has such a repertoire, and it includes a superstar beef brisket that’s so tender, we call it meat pudding.  OK, maybe that doesn’t sound great, but the brisket is perfect.  I really swoon when he puts on the Williams-Sonoma apron and starts browning meat.

I think brisket is similar to the pot roasts my Mom used to make back in the day, meat cooked low and slow with carrots, onions, and celery.  When it’s cooking, your whole house will smell of it.  Brisket is comfort food, and it’s a perfect early Sunday dinner. Tote leftovers to the office the next day for lunch and make your co-workers green with envy.  Especially when you tell them your man-thing made dinner while you sat, relaxed and half-drunk on red wine.  Did I mention you should also use the leftovers with french rolls to make sandwiches?

For this post, I have vowed to remove my rose-colored glasses and believe that others, too, can reproduce this succulent dish.  Mr. P can’t possibly be the only one who can make a mean brisket!

Let’s pick his brain, shall we?

BP:  I never had brisket before we got married.  Is brisket a traditional Jewish food, or is it just more popular in this part of the country?

RP:  I dunno, I think it’s a Jewish thing that other people eat too.  Like matzo ball soup is Jewish, but other people eat it.

BP: So, not like gefilte fish, which is Jewish but no one that’s not Jewish ever eats it.

BP: How and why did you learn to make brisket?

brisket Making the garlic-rosemary paste

RP:  Once, a long time ago, I had really good brisket somewhere, so I knew I liked it.  Then, I had a lot of brisket that just wasn’t right.  It was bad, like dry and it didn’t taste good. I said, “I can make this myself”, and I went online to find a recipe that seemed good.  The recipe I use now is from Tyler Florence, but I change it up a little.

BP:  I’m sure this is all very complicated with a lot of “moving parts”.  But, for the novice, if you could pick the single, most important tip for getting a perfect brisket result, what would it be?

RP:  It’s hard to pick one thing.  Maybe a little unconventional but I think it’s good to cut up the brisket before you cook it.  If it’s all one big thing, then only the outside edges of it will soak up the goodness in the pan.  When you cut it up, you get more surface area of meat exposed to the juices.  I also trim the fat, that’s why I start with like 41/2 pounds, because I know that it will be much less after I cut off the fat.  I’m sure you’re not “supposed” to trim the fat, everyone says it adds all kinds of flavor.  But, this is my brisket, not their brisket, and I don’t like biting into a big piece of fat.

BP:  Great!  Let’s get started!  What can I do to help?

RP:  I’m going to turn on some music.  You need good music to cook and it can be anything you like.  Will you grab me a beer and keep me company?

For this particular cooking session, Rob chose Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue, Volume I.  When things started to come together, he switched to The Rolling Stones.

Once you get the hang of it, you can play around and try all sorts of variations.  Meat cooked this way is hard to mess up, and it will work with many flavor combinations.  For example, at our wedding, we served a Moroccan braised brisket cooked with all sorts of exotic spices and dried currants.  This recipe uses red wine, but try beer instead!

Mr. P's Magic Beef Brisket

Adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients (Serves 8):

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

Kosher salt

Leaves stripped from 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 beef brisket, between 4 and 5 pounds, preferrably grass-fed

brisket Trim the fat from the brisket, if you'd like

Coarsely ground black pepper

4 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into large chunks

3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into large chunks

4 large red onions, peeled and halved

2 cups dry red wine

1 16-oz can whole plum tomatoes, hand-crushed

1 handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 bay leaves

Step One:
brisket Don't be afraid of the salt and pepper

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

Kosher salt

Leaves stripped from 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 beef brisket, between 4 and 5 pounds, preferrably grass-fed

Coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

With a mortar and pestle, smash up the garlic cloves with the rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and incorporate into a thick paste and set aside.  Now to tackle the brisket.  With a sharp knife, trim the fat layer from the brisket.  Remember, this is now your brisket, not our brisket.  You can trim as much or as little fat as you wish.  Season both sides of brisket liberally with kosher salt and ground pepper.  Cut the brisket into strips that are about an inch and a half wide.  Heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and carefully place the brisket pieces in the pan.  Sear to form a nice brown crust on one side, flip each strip over using tongs and sear the other side.

brisket Adding the wine, tomatoes and garlic-rosemary goodness
Step Two:

4 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into large chunks

3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into large chunks

4 large red onions, peeled and halved

2 cups dry red wine

1 16-oz can whole plum tomatoes, hand-crushed

1 handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 bay leaves

brisket Before going to the oven

Add the wine and tomatoes to the pan.  Toss in the bay leaves and parsley.  Dot the meat with the garlic-rosemary paste and add the vegetables to the pan, arranging them around and on top of the meat.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven.  Cook for 3-4 hours, basting the meat with the pan juices every 30 minutes until meat is tender.  Remove from the oven and let rest, covered, for 15 minutes.

Serve the meat and vegetables together and spoon a bit of pan juices over.  You can serve brisket with mashed potatoes to soak up the pan juices, and it will be a perfect meal.  Or, you can serve it as we do, with boiled and mashed root vegetables like turnips, celery root, and parsnips.  Skipping the ubiquitous potatoes keeps the whole meal feeling a little less heavy.

brisket Beef brisket and root vegetable mash

 

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