Beef Brisket A La Lola
Passover Seder 2003: Brisket of beef as usual. But, this time, with a twist.
Beef Brisket (or short ribs or pot roast or any beef braise) is a perfect meal for entertaining. Especially when entertaining in the middle of the week and you don't have a whole lot of time to cook. “What!” you may exclaim (go ahead, I'll wait...) “Doesn't brisket take hours to cook?” Well, yes, yes it does—about three hours, in fact (doesn't matter how large a brisket either, as all briskets are of pretty much the same thickness and it's the thickness of meat that affects cooking time). But, you do have 3 hours to do some cooking the night before, don't you? And doesn't everyone say that brisket always tastes better the next day? And wouldn't it be great if it were really easy to remove the fat after cooking? And wouldn't it be great to entertain and have the food follow your schedule rather than you follow the food's?
Well, with beef brisket, you make it the night before, and let it cool in the refrigerator. Before your guests arrive, get rid of the fat from the brisket which has conveniently solidified for you to pick it out with a fork, cut up a few extra vegetables, pop it all in a warm oven, and enjoy your company until you are ready to eat.
And the twist? Well, I just read about it the other day in Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America. It's Coca Cola. No kidding. Add a can of that stuff to your braise and the results will be simply awesome. In fact, my mom said that this year's brisket was better than hers. Now, if that doesn't convince you to make this, I don't know what will.
Braised Beef Brisket A La Lola
Serves 4–6 with a 2–1/2 pound brisket, 8–10 with a 5 pound brisket
For cooking the brisket:
2–1/2 to 5 pound beef brisket
2 cloves garlic chopped (about a tablespoon)
2 leeks, white part with just a little of the green part, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 10 oz. can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup cocktail olives
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme (or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Coca Cola
1/2 cup port or sherry
1 pound carrots cut into 1/2" slices to serve with the brisket (about 1–1/2 cups)
1 pound waxy potatoes (white, red bliss or yukon gold), cut into 1/2" slices or wedges (about 1–1/2 cups)
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Chop and toss together the garlic, onion, carrots, celery and tomatoes. A small handful at a time, crush the olives with your hands (grab a few and grip tight so as crushed bits squeeze through your fingers) and toss them with the other vegetables and garlic.
- Wash the meat in cold water, pat it dry and rub it all over with the salt and pepper.
- On a rimmed baking sheet or large casserole dish, lay a large sheet of aluminum foil (large enough to fold over to encase the meat plus an inch or two of liquid—you need the wide heavy duty foil for this, not the regular stuff that barely covers a mason jar and tears if you as much as look at it funny). Spread half of the vegetables in the middle and lay down two sprigs of fresh thyme (or sprinkle on a half teaspoon of dried thyme) and one bay leaf. Lay the meat over this and cover it with the remaining herbs and vegetable mixture. Bring the foil up along the longest edges of the meat, crimp it together and fold it over a few times—enough to seal the foil, but not so much as to make a tight package. Fold one of the ends of foil up and crimp to seal. In the remaining open end, pour in the sherry and Coke and then crimp the foil pouch closed.
- Bake this in the 325° for at least 3 hours, but no more than 5.
- Remove the brisket from the oven, let it come to room temperature (about two hours) and refrigerate overnight. You could plop it straight into the fridge, but then you're likely to ruin other stuff in the fridge by bringing the fridge temperature down too low for a bit from the heat from the meat.
- About two hours before you're ready to serve dinner, take the brisket from the refrigerator, set the oven to 325° to preheat and prepare the carrots, potatoes and any other vegetables you may want to cook with the brisket for serving.
- About an hour before you're ready to serve, carefully open the aluminum foil pouch (so as not to let all the wonderful cooking liquid run all over the place) and pick out and dispose of any solidified fat, the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Place the meat and about a quarter of the cooked vegetables to a casserole dish or dutch oven. Pour the cooking liquid and remaining vegetables into a blender or food processor and let the machine do its thing until you have a smooth sauce. Add this sauce to the dish with the meat, along with the sliced potato and carrot.
- Pop it all back into the oven and let it cook for another 45 minutes. If you're having fun with your guests, just turn the oven down to 200° and everything can sit comfortably for another hour or so if you wish.
© Copyright 2003, Richard L. Chase
Posted on Apr 20, 2003 @ 08:13 PM
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