Spring holiday time! I am so excited. The light is making me feel positively giddy. I am turning away from squash. Finally! And the pansies are at the market, even though there is not a single sign of green outside my window and today it’s still freezing. Yet…
Plans for happy, lighter food are in my near future. Ok, brisket isn’t the lightest food, but hey! Tradition is tradition is tradition! And no matter how or if you celebrate one of the spring holidays coming up next week, this brisket will make you very happy. And you do all the heavy lifting (which, trust me, is minimal) the day before.
This slow-cooked brisket gets its sweet-and-sour tang from vinegar, brown sugar, and apricots. Make it the day before you plan to serve it, which not only gives you a little breathing space for the Seder menu, but also lets the sauce mellow and makes the meat easy to slice.
Start with a flat-cut beef brisket — this is the leaner cut — and season it generously with salt and pepper. Brown it well in a pot that can go into the oven. Soften onions and garlic in the same pan to capture all the meaty brown bits, add the sweet-and-sour elements with the dried fruit, and transfer the meat to a low oven for four hours (the kitchen will perfume the house). A long, slow braise will make the brisket meltingly tender. Strain the sauce to press out all the flavor of the onions and apricots. Store the sauce and meat separately in the refrigerator, so the fat in the sauce solidifies. The next day, it’s a cinch to lift off the fat cap. Slice the cold meat against the grain and reheat the slices in the sauce with long, slender carrots so both absorb the sweet flavors. Serve with steamed small potatoes sprinkled with parsley. Think of this as bubbe’s brisket 2.0.
Overnight brisket with apricots and carrots
1 flat-cut (3 1/2 to 4 pounds) brisket
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large onions, halved and sliced
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
8 dried apricots
3 cups chicken stock
2 bunches slender carrots, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (for garnish)
Boiled new potatoes (for serving)
1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Sprinkle the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. In a large, flame-proof casserole that will hold the brisket flat, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and brown for 4 to 5 minutes on a side. Transfer to a platter.
3. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Return it to medium heat and add the garlic and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
4. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, tomatoes, apricots, and the stock. Bring to a boil. Return the brisket to the pot, cover, and transfer to the oven.
5. Cook the brisket for 3 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 30 more minutes, or until the meat is very tender. (Total cooking time is 4 hours.)
6. Transfer the meat to a large, flat container or platter. Cover with the lid or foil and refrigerate overnight.
7. Set a strainer over a bowl. A few ladles at a time, strain the sauce, pressing the sides of the strainer with a rubber spatula until the pulp is almost dry. Discard the pulp. Transfer the sauce to a container and refrigerate overnight.
8. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Remove and discard the fat from the sauce.
9. In a wide skillet over medium-high heat, bring the sauce to a low boil. Add the carrots and cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender.
10. Slice the brisket against the grain and transfer the slices to a baking dish. Add the carrots to the dish and spoon the sauce over the top.
11. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meat and sauce are hot. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with boiled potatoes and the remaining sauce on the side.
This recipe was previously published in the Boston Globe
©2009-2019 Sally Pasley Vargas. Writing and photography, all rights reserved.