Despite having a great weekend, I am now sick as a dog. Not only do I have what feels like some kind of sinus infection, I feel like I have a slight fever, too. Thanks, world. Great. Juuuuust great. I suppose it was almost worth it. I cooked a brisket, had some friends over to eat said brisket, went to Prospect Park to enjoy the gorgeous weather, ate delicious Murray’s cheese and meats, had dinner at Walter Foods, and watched what was probably my favorite episode of Louie ever (yep, so good that it makes the weekend recap – congratulations to Louis C.K. on both this VIP mention and on his two Emmys). Still, though, being sick when it’s beautiful outside is the worst. I guess that’s why I’ve tried to deny it for the past few days, pushing myself a bit more than I probably should have. That’s why when I left for work this morning, I put on my prescription sunglasses on and left my regular glasses behind, so I got to look like I was out partying all night instead of sneezing and coughing as quietly as possible so that I could pay attention to Boardwalk Empire. At least I was able to come home a bit early today, so here I am, on the couch, in my pajamas, drinking disgusting but hopefully healing green juice (made with kale, AKA my mortal enemy) and watching TV.
Anyway, this brisket ruled. The recipe comes from The Mile End Deli Cookbook, which is from, you guessed it, Mile End Deli in Brooklyn. Their food is life changing, I kid you not. I dream of their smoked meat sandwich and of their beautifully bright red housemade lox. I get way too excited when I know I’ll be eating there soon, so when my pre-ordered (duh) copy of their book finally arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to crack it open and start using the recipes within. First up, of course, in honor of the holidays, is this Braised Brisket with Red Wine and Prunes. I scored a 6-pound brisket recently, so I cooked this up and had a few friends over to enjoy it with me. The meat turned out beautifully tender and absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself, and despite having eight people tear into it this past weekend, we still have enough leftovers for a meal or two this week. The method couldn’t be easier – just saute some veggies, reduce your sauce, braise, and serve. I will be posting some of the sides that went along with this masterpiece later on in the week (not to mention the dessert – oh, the dessert – which is also from this book), but for now, I hope you are inspired by the cooler weather and reasonably priced brisket that is to be found around this time of year to make this yourself sometime in the near future.
Then playing some Cards Against Humanity.
- 5-6 pounds brisket
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 3-4 large carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3 stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- leaves of 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves only, finely minced
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 25 pitted prunes
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 2 heads of garlic, cloves removed and peeled
- 2 cups dry red wine
- ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Season the brisket on both sides well with salt and pepper, at least a tablespoon of salt per side and 2 teaspoons of black pepper per side (more or less depending on personal taste). Heat the oil in a large skillet (or the bottom of your roasting pan, like I did, because my 6-pound brisket would not fit in any of my pans) and brown well on both sides, about 6-7 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to the rack of the roasting pan and surround with the carrots, celery, rosemary, bay leaves, and prunes.
- Add the onions to the same skillet (or a separate one with some oil, like I had to do, because, as I said, I bought a giant freakin’ brisket) and saute over medium-high heat until well browned, about 8 minutes. Add in the whole, peeled garlic cloves, red wine, and ¼ cup of the red wine vinegar and stir to combine. Reduce the mixture until the pan is almost dry, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often, then add in the tomatoes, brown sugar, and stock. Stir to combine.
- Pour the onion mixture over the brisket in the roasting pan, and cover entirely with foil. Place in the oven and roast for 4 hours, or until tender (I found that 4 hours was perfect for my 6-pound brisket).
- Remove the brisket from the oven and uncover. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes, then transfer it to a cutting board and cover to keep warm. Discard the bay leaves, and use a slotted spoon to remove the prunes and set them aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl, and reserve 1 cup of the cooked vegetables, discarding the rest. Allow the fat to rise to the top of the bowl of cooking liquid, then skim it off with a spoon and add in the reserved 1 cup of vegetables and half of the prunes (you can cut up the prunes and add them to the sauce later, but I just used half of the prunes and discarded the rest). Place in a food processor, a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Add in the remaining 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Slice the brisket very thinly, against the grain, and serve with the sauce.