Friday, September 3, 2010

My Mom's Brisket-Our Classic Holiday Meal

About three times a year I grew up eating this brisket. I always enjoyed the tender meat, the flavorful potatoes and the savory sauce. As an adult I have come to appreciate it for all its virtues. Since it tastes best if made 24 hours in advance, it is perfect for company. It uses 5 main ingredients, making it incredibly simple. And finally, if you can find a brisket on sale, it is actually quite economical. Mom: Thanks!

A few additional points: My mother has always made this on the stove top without parchment paper. If you do that, simmer it at the slowest, lowest possible. Putting it in the oven with parchment are my own adaptations. In addition, after I wrote this, I read a number of articles that suggested it is better to leave the lid ajar in the oven. Why? Because by putting the lid on, you raise the heat IN THE POT too high. When you cook a pot roast to fast, it gets tough. The moral of the story: just keep the heat low. And do try to make this a day ahead. It tastes so much better that way.

Mom's Brisket
(I am definitely not a professional recipe writer, so feel free to comment if you have questions or need clarifications!)

4 to 5 pound first cut beef brisket, trimmed of access fat
salt, pepper and paprika
olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 to 2 green peppers, diced
6 to 8 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (if you use red potatoes, halves may be fine)
1 can tomato sauce
parchment paper

Before you begin, cut a piece of parchment paper that is the same size as your pan or dutch oven.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Dry the brisket with paper towels to help it to brown. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or heavy bottom pan. Brown the brisket on all sides. Make sure to brown it well, not moving, for about 4 to 5 minutes a side to get the best sear. Carefully take the brisket out of the pot, and place it in a pan.

If there aren't enough drippings, add a few tablespoons more oil. Saute the onions and green peppers for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Take the pan off the heat. Place the potatoes on top. Place the brisket on top of that. Pour the can of tomato sauce on top. Then, fill the can with water and pour the water on top, as well. Place the piece of parchment paper on top, pressing to keep the meat moist. Place a lid on top.

Slide the brisket in the oven and cook for three to four hours until the meat is cooked through. Try to turn it once or twice, making sure to replace the parchment paper and the lid.

When it is done, take the dish out to cool. When it is cool, remove the parchment, cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at 12 to 24 hours. This will tenderize the meat and make it even tastier.

The next day, carefully lift the meat out of the dish. Skim any congealed fat off of the gravy. Then place the pan back in the oven at 350 to warm up the liquid. Cut slices, 1/4 to 1/2 inch, against the grain. When the liquid is warm, place the slices in the pan and set it back in the oven. You don't want to over cook the meat, just to warm it up. I check frequently, though it is usually done in about 15 minutes.

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