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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy

For the last couple of weeks, I've been in my freezer clean-up mode and found a small brisket (only 2 1/2 pounds), a great size for two of us. I looked for ideas for cooking it and found this one. I'm glad I came across it because a braised brisket is one of the most beefy tasting cuts. It takes a little time but the recipe is super easy, especially the "onion" gravy which is remarkably flavorful and takes nothing but a blender to create. This dish will taste better if you can cook it a day ahead. But if you can't, it will taste wonderful on the day you cook it.


Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy

Adapted from:  The Washington Post Food Section
Serves 6-8

If you can, choose a flat-cut brisket, but one with a thin fat cap for moisture retention during cooking.

1 beef brisket, 4-5 pounds
freshly ground black pepper
2 T vegetable oil or more if needed
2 pounds yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 T light brown sugar
4 large cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 T tomato paste
1 T smoked Spanish paprika
1 1/2 c dry red wine
2 c chicken broth, homemade or canned

Turn on the oven and preheat to 325F.

Pat the brisket dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven or a roasting pan over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Lay the brisket in the pot, fat side down and brown well. Try for dark brown but not scorched. Turn the brisket over and brown the second side. Remove the brisket and set aside while assembling the rest of the ingredients.

Lower the burner temperature to medium. You should have a couple of tablespoons oil in the bottom of the Dutch oven. If not, add a little as needed. Stir in the onions and brown sugar and 1/2 teas salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the onions have just started to brown. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and paprika and cook for about a minute to bloom the flavors, stirring constantly. Then add the wine and raise the heat to medium high and cook until the wine is reduced by about a half. Stir in the chicken broth and heat through. When it begins to simmer, add the brisket and any juices that accumulated.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil or use a sheet of parchment paper under the lid of the Dutch oven. Place in the oven and slow roast for 3-4 hours, until tender when tested with a fork. Turn the brisket over every hour.

Remove from the oven; place the brisket on a platter and cover to keep warm. To make the gravy immediately, place the liquids into a fat separator and the onions into a blender. When you've removed as much fat as you prefer, pour the liquids into the blender and puree until smooth. You may find it too runny so you'll need to place it in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until it reduces.

Cut the brisket into thin slices across the grain. You may pour the gravy over the brisket before serving or pass the gravy among diners.

You may, however, let both the roast and the onion mixture cool and place in the refrigerator. Brisket usually tastes better after refrigeration for a day. The onion gravy mixture will also have a chance to separate from the fat which you can easily remove. Follow the instructions above but reheat the gravy either on the stove top or in the microwave after blending. Reheat the brisket wrapped tightly in foil in a 300F oven.


Just days after posting this recipe, I found an adaptation of the same recipe by David Lebovitz whose blog and books I read and admire. He uses a bit of fish sauce and some diced carrots and makes a few other changes. He also serves this with a fresh horseradish sauce. Take a look at his post, if you are interested.

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