Friday, September 10, 2010

Brisket or Bust

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
Yesterday was Rosh ha Shana (5751) and, although I don't go to services, I do like to experience my religion through its food. The Jewish New Year is celebrated with sweets (for a sweet year) -  sweet kugaltsimmis, and apples with honey. I've had tsimmis where the meat is thrown into the pot, but it's not to my taste so I make the meat separately.

So - off I went to buy a brisket.

I called a local butcher who said, yes, they had some; when I arrived, however, I was told that it hadn't arrived yet but would be delivered in an hour. OK ... save one for me.... Off to the local high-end grocery store (the beef really does make a difference - I find that organic, grass-fed is best) ... they weren't expecting a delivery until Monday. Hm. Ok, it was early. I could wait an hour.

But brisket takes some time to braise - it's a tough cut of meat and needs to cook for a long time to become tender.

I called a third butcher - one attached to a restaurant - and they had 4 lbs. YES! Hold it! I'll come right over.

It was an end piece with a big cone of fat through the middle. Fine - I'd take it. Please cut out the lard (which they did and kindly shaved off a half pound from my bill).

I arrived back at my house at around four and immediately browned it up and started it braising.

My recipe is usually pretty straightforward, but this time I decided to add some sweet new year pizazz and alter the formula. The results were magnificent. So much so that I NEED to write them down so I can attempt to replicate it in the future. So - here you go:

BRISKET (or bust)
4lbs brisket 

one can chicken broth
one package onion soup mix
one can chopped tomatoes
one cup Boffo Cart jarred tomatoes (or something similar)
one pint marinated figs and olive (bought at the olive bar at Magnani in Berkeley)
one cup water

• season meat with salt and pepper all over
• in a large sauce pan, brown the meat on both sides (about 5 mins. each side)
• add to the pan: chicken broth, onion soup mix, can chopped tomatoes and cup home-made jarred tomatoes (or appropriate substitute.)
• bring to a boil, cover the pot and lower flame to simmer
• simmer for 1 hour, then turn the brisket over, add the figs/olives and another cup of water and recover
• simmer for another hour
• check for done-ness - should be fork tender if not - cook longer.

Let it sit for a half hour in the pan before serving.
Remove meat from pan and slice across the grain.
Left in the pan is a tomato/olive/fig "jam" - serve it along-side the brisket slices.