Brisket can be a tough cut of meat, but cooking at a low temperature and for a longer time allows it to become tender and succulent. Braising meat in beer adds a rich almost earthy flavor. Excitedly, I went in search of good local craft beer to use. Allagash, an independent craft brewery in Portland, Maine, has a delicious signature Belgian-style wheat beer called Alllagash White. This is the beer I used for my braise.
When purchasing brisket you usually have two choices for the cut of meat. The flat cut generally has less fat running through it, is easier to slice and less expensive than the point cut, which is your other option. This is a great dish to make ahead of time for guests or for a dinner planned for later in the week. You can store the meat for up to 2 days in the refrigerator making sure to store it in its cooking liquid to retain the moisture.
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Let the brisket come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Combine the mustard, sugar and grated ginger in a small bowl. Using your hands or a brush, coat the meat with the rub. Season the beef with salt. Heat the olive in a Dutch-oven or enameled cast-iron casserole pan. Add the brisket when the pan is nice and hot. Sear both sides of the brisket. Once nicely browned on both sides, remove the meat to a plate, leaving the fat and pan drippings. Lower the heat and add the onions. Sauté the onions, adding a little oil if the pan is too dry. Cook the onions until they’ve softened and are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the the flour, stirring to cook it through, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, the beer and the chicken stock. Bring it to a simmer. Add the brisket back into the pot and cover. Place the covered pot in the oven. Slow roast the brisket for about 3-4 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove the pot from the oven and let it cool. I strained the gravy through a fine mesh sieve- although this is optional. If you’re not serving it right away, store the brisket in its braising liquid. When ready to serve it, bring the pot to a simmer and re-heat the meat. Slice before serving and season the sauce with salt. I add a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar as needed to balance the flavors.