Friday, September 14, 2007

Brisket tonight - new variation

With the holidays upon us, brisket seems inevitable. Got into a discussion about a brisket dinner my Mom attended two nights back. Seems her host made a sweet version. Our family's traditional brisket has always been strictly savory - but I've often heard of sweet versions. Tonight, I decided to create a hybrid.

Best available 3 lb first cut brisket
Rub: Kosher salt and pepper melange du jour (previously discussed here (toward end of post)) + a tablespoon or so of paprika ( I used mostly sweet Hungarian + a little Smoked Spanish)
3 lbs yellow onions, sliced thinly
4 medium cloves garlic
5 medium carrots, cut into 1" pieces
6 ounces (ok, a cup wouldn't hurt) of Off-Dry (not sweet, not bone-dry) Alsatian Riesling
A cup of pitted prunes
A tablespoon or so of concentrated veal or beef demi-glace if you have it.

Heat oven to 325 (convection) or 350 conventional.
Rub brisket and then sear on both sides with a little oil in heavy enameled dutch oven (top off, on the stovetop). Reserve meat.
Add sliced onions and whole garlic cloves, agitate to deglaze. Season with salt and pepper melange.
When onions get going, add meat back in, arranging the onion mixture so it surrounds and covers the meat.
Add carrots, prunes, and wine.
Cover and place in the oven for about an hour.
At one hour, turn the meat, and rearrange vegetables to cover. Continue braising another 90 minutes.
At 2 1/2 hours total time, remove meat and reserve.
Add demi-glace if available and stir to incorporate.
Puree the vegetables, fruit, and liquid right in the pan with an immersion blender.
If you didn't use the demi-glace, you may need to correct the color. You can do this with something like gravy master or more paprika or achiote or whatever makes sense. Of course, with the carrots and prunes in this, you might be fine with no help.
Reintroduce the meat, cover all sides with your wonderfully thickened gravy, put the top back on and return to oven for another 20 minutes.

Finally, slice across the grain and serve well sauced. Accompany with something that likes gravy like white rice.

This gravy is still mostly about onions and the liberal use of the pepper melange makes it slightly spicy. But the fruity wine, carrots and prunes pull it toward, but not all the way to, sweet. If you come from the really sweet brisket tradition (I understand, for example, quite a few people use Coke in theirs) you certainly won't think this is sweet. It ends up being not overtly sweet, but very rich. We served a Montes Apalta Cabernet Carmenere. This picked up the both black fruit and the onion driven edge in the sauce nicely.

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