Recently, we welcomed winter with some very varied weather in Boston. One of the my favorite winter activities is braising tough cuts of meat slowly, using a low temperature. The dried fruit in this recipe creates a beautiful and mildly sweet sauce for the brisket. This dish is perfect for a crowd or made in advance, leaving great leftovers. When purchasing brisket, you are more likely to find the “first cut”, a leaner piece of meat, but if possible, ask the butcher for the “second cut”. The second cut of meat is marbled with fat and is perfect for braising and for use in a slow cooker. Both cuts of meat work for this recipe.
Aromatics are herbs and vegetables that get sautéed in some kind of fat to start a dish. This step adds tremendous flavor, so don’t skip it. Use the herbs, spices and vegetables that you have on hand at home.
- 3-5 pound brisket, second cut if possible
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly slices
- 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 6 springs fresh thyme
- 10 pitted prunes
- 10 dried Turkish apricots
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or sturdy casserole dish. Add the brisket and cook over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the meat to a dish. Add the onion to the pan, stirring occasionally and scraping up the brown bits as you go. When the onions are softened, add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, cinnamon and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn of the heat and stir in the thyme sprigs, prunes and apricots. Return the brisket and the accumulated juices to the pot. Cover the pot and place in the oven, cook for about 3 hours. Once the brisket is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. Cut the brisket across the grain. Serve with the sauce from the pan. The brisket can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Re-heat in the oven or on the stove-top before serving.
Inspiration: Food and Wine Magazine