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Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

I must admit, Hanukkah has kind of snuck up on me this year.  I guess had I consulted my calendar sooner, I would have realized that it begins on Wednesday.  But I didn't, so our latkes are going to have to wait a couple of days so that I can get it together and buy some gifts.  Had I been more on top of it, I could have done some shopping for others while we were in New York over Thanksgiving.  Instead I bought myself shoes.  Live and learn.

Having said all that, to me nothing says Jewish holiday like a brisket.  It was my mother's "go to" Jewish meal and it's stuck.  I have to say, I love a good brisket and there are a million different variations so it never actually seems like you're eating the same thing over and over.  My current favorite take on brisket is one that my friend Mona passed along several years ago.  I've played with it a little so I guess this version belongs to me.  My family loves it.

The thing with brisket is that I think it really benefits from being cooked ahead.  Like a day or two ahead.  I just stick the whole pot in the refrigerator overnight.   This way I can easily skim the fat from the liquid.  Cooling the brisket makes it much easier to slice attractively as well.  I make the same recipe regardless of the size brisket I'm using.  If it's a smaller brisket I just have a little more sauce.

The really great thing about brisket is that you don't even need a Jewish holiday to enjoy it.  It's a great cold weather meal.  It's also great smoked in the summer, which is one of Ted's specialties.

So, in an effort to get this holiday up and running, I did pick up a brisket today when I was at the butcher.  I'm going to make it tomorrow and who knows, it may inspire me to get out and do some holiday shopping.  I hope.

My Favorite Brisket


1 4-5 pound brisket
3 large onions cut in half and sliced
4 tablespoons ketchup
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups red wine
beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
6 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325.

Heat  2 tablespoons of oil in a large dutch oven.  Add the onions and saute until they are very dark brown.  Add ketchup and cook together with the onions for 2 minutes. Remove onions from pot.  Generously season the brisket with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the dutch oven.  Sear the meat on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot.  Add the wine and deglaze the pot, using a wooden spoon the scrape up the browned bits from the pot.

Return the meat and onion mixture to the pot and add the carrots and herbs.  Season with a little more salt and pepper.  Add enough beef stock so that the liquid comes up about 3/4 of the way over the meat and vegetables.  Bring to a boil.

Cover and place in the oven for about 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.

Cool and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning,  remove the meat from the pot and skim the fat from the surface of the braising liquid.  Slice the meat against the grain and return to the pot with the braising liquid.

In a separate skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the mushrooms until they are soft.  Add to the pot with the meat and braising liquid.

Reheat over low heat until hot.

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