My first experience with brisket (besides corned beef brisket, which I've eaten every St. Patrick's Day for as long as I can remember) was the first time Jeff brought me home to meet his family. It was Rosh Hashanah (back in 2008). This was also my first time experiencing a Jewish holiday, potato kugel, and homemade challah bread. I won't say the evening wasn't intimidating -- Jeff has two sisters and a brother, and all of them have significant others and kids, so there were a lot of people there -- but I look back on that day and remember it as the first day I met my now in-laws and am amazed at how life just happens.
But anyways, back to the brisket. My mother-in-law had made brisket as part of dinner (I've come to learn that she makes it for every holiday and it's always popular), and of course I had to try it. She makes hers with mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and onions, and I really enjoyed it. These days, I'm right there with everyone fighting for the platter when it gets set on the table.
While I love her brisket, I eventually decided to attempt cooking a brisket myself. I tried a Cook's Illustrated recipe out on my family last February, and it was such a hit that my brother keeps asking me to make him brisket any time my family is coming to visit. (And that's huge because he usually just rolls his eyes when his oldest sister starts talking about food, yet again.) I had plans to make another brisket for them this February and picked one up at the Butcherie II, but the weekend they intended to come up was the weekend of the blizzard, and plans fell through.
I put the brisket in the freezer and pulled it out a few weeks later when we had friends coming over for dinner. I liked the Cook's Illustrated recipe, but I wanted to try something new, so I turned to Joan Nathan's recipe this time.
Following the recipe, first, I seasoned the brisket and seared it on both sides. Next, I put it in a large dish with diced tomatoes, red wine, celery, a bay leaf, and sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
Then I baked the brisket, covered, for 3 hours, occasionally spooning some of the pan juices over it. After 3 hours, I added the carrots and parsley and baked it, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.
At that point, I let it cool, and then I covered it and refrigerated it overnight. The next night, I took it out and scooped the fat off the top. (This was a little tedious as I tried to avoid all the carrots sticking through the layer of fat.)
I transferred the brisket to a cutting board and thinly sliced it against the grain.
And I rewarmed the gravy on the stove. Next, I placed the brisket in a pan, poured the warm gravy over, and reheated it in the oven for 45 minutes. I served it right from the pan and let everyone take their own and spoon some gravy and vegetables on top if they wanted.
I followed the recipe as written, with a few exceptions:
- I used a New York single cut brisket, which didn't really require much trimming because the fat is marbled throughout the brisket (as opposed to a hefty fat cap).
- I used a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes (because where does one find a 10-ounce can?).
- I did not include the celery leaves (they weren't too attractive on the stalk of celery I had so I trimmed them off).
I loved the flavors imparted by the red wine and tomatoes, and the carrots added some sweetness (though I do admit I missed the potatoes that accompany my mother-in-law's brisket). The colorful carrots and sauce also make for great presentation. All in all, I think this one's definitely a keeper (but I'll have to make it for my brother to know for sure). If you're planning to make brisket the center of your Passover meal, I'd give this recipe a try.
Have you ever made brisket?