Brisket, Brisket, Brisket

A springtime rite. A Passover menu icon.
Time for entertaining with brisket bests
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savory tips for holiday bests.
Brisket with Herbed Spinach Stuffing
For the stuffing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
2 whole matzo sheets, finely crumbled
1 large egg, beaten to blend
For the brisket:
1 4-pound flat-cut brisket
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
2 1/4 cups canned chicken broth
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Make stuffing:
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and thyme–sauté until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Mix in spinach and matzo. Season stuffing with salt and pepper. Mix in egg.
Make brisket:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut deep pocket in 1 side of brisket, leaving 3/4-inch border of meat uncut on remaining 3 sides. Fill pocket with stuffing. Skewer or sew pocket closed. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over brisket. Arrange half of onions in bottom of large roasting pan. Place brisket, fat side up, on onions. Top brisket with remaining onions. Pour 1/4 cup broth into pan. Bake brisket uncovered until meat and onions begin to brown,
about 1 hour. Add carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf to pan around brisket. Pour remaining 2 cups broth over. Cover pan with foil. Reduce temperature to 300°F. Bake brisket until tender, about 2 1/2 hours longer. Remove from oven. Uncover pan; let brisket stand 30 minutes. Thinly slice brisket across grain. Overlap slices on platter. Surround with vegetables from pan. Spoon off fat from pan juices–season juices with salt and pepper. Serve brisket with pan juices.
Horseradish Brisket
( courtesy of Gail Simmons )
One 5 1/2-pound first-cut brisket
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, cut crosswise 1 inch thick
2 medium parsnips, halved and cut crosswise 1 inch thick
2 celery ribs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup prepared white horseradish, drained
2 cups dry red wine
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
3 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 325°. Season the brisket generously with salt and pepper. In a very large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Add the brisket and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 12 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the brisket to a rimmed baking sheet, fat side up. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onions and half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnips and celery and cook over moderate heat until browned in spots, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the prepared horseradish with the remaining garlic and 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Spread the garlic-horseradish paste on the fat side of the brisket. Pour the red wine into the casserole. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the casserole, 1 minute. Push the vegetables to the side of the casserole and add the bay leaves. Set the brisket, horseradish side up, in the center of the casserole. Pour the beef stock around the brisket and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Cover the casserole, transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Scatter the potatoes around the brisket, cover and cook for about 2 hours longer, until the meat is very tender. Increase the oven temperature to 350°. Uncover the casserole and roast for about 30 minutes, until the brisket is browned on top and the gravy has thickened. Carefully transfer the brisket
to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the brisket cooking liquid into a fat separator and let stand until the fat rises to the surface. Pour the cooking liquid into a gravy boat and discard the fat. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of prepared horseradish into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain and transfer to the platter with the vegetables. Spoon some of the gravy over the brisket and vegetables and serve, passing the remaining gravy at the table.
*NOTE:  The recipe can be prepared through Step 5 and refrigerated for up to 3 days. To reheat, skim the fat from the surface of the liquid. Slice the cold brisket, return it to the casserole and reheat gently in a 350° oven. 
Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes
1 4-to 4 1/2-pound flat-cut beef brisket, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup Merlot
2 pounds onions, sliced
4 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
16 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups pitted large prunes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon prune juice
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Pat brisket dry–sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy extra-large skillet over high heat. Add brisket and cook until deep brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer brisket, fat side up, to large roasting pan. Add tomatoes with juice and wine to skillet. Remove from heat, scrape up any browned bits, and pour mixture over brisket. Distribute onions, carrots, and garlic around brisket. Add prunes and thyme; drizzle with 1/2 cup prune juice and
3 tablespoons vinegar. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Place pan over 2 burners and bring to boil. Cover pan with heavy-duty foil–place in oven. Braise brisket until tender–about 3 hours.
Uncover and cool 1 hour at room temperature.
*Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with foil and chill. Bring just to simmer over 2 burners before continuing.
Remove brisket from roasting pan, scraping off juices. Place on work surface–cut across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.Spoon off fat from top of pan juices. Place 1 cup vegetables (no prunes) and 1 cup braising liquid from pan into processor and puree. Return puree to pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon prune juice and 1 teaspoon vinegar to pan. Heat sauce–season with salt and pepper. Overlap brisket slices in 13x9x2- inch glass baking dish.
Pour sauce over brisket, separating slices to allow some sauce to flow between.
*Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Rewarm brisket, covered, in 350°F oven for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle brisket with parsley; serve.
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