Wine-Braised Brisket with Tart Cherries
Meat, for the first time in a long while I have been craving it. As you have probably noticed I am not really crazy about cooking meat and have always felt pretty insecure with a meat cleaver, really avoiding it for the most part. Right now when my body tells me that I need something, I listen to it and lately it has been calling for red meat.
I decided to go with something that I felt was fail safe, and made a brisket. I have made brisket maybe one other time in my life, I never found it to be inspiring, brought thoughts of dry, tasteless grey meat to mind. I now realize that I love it, if it is done right, it is crazy delicious and juicy and certainly not grey.
What I didn’t realize was that if it was done right, you really needed an extra day to make it. That ended up being perfect, it was too much for my little family on the day of purchase, so we invited some friends over to share it with us the next day, giving it the time it needed to juice and flavor up.
Cherries are everywhere right now, so pretty in the veggie trucks with their ruby reds and getting cheaper as the season moves on. I love the combination of fruit and meat, probably my favorite way to prepare and eat meat, and I found this recipe for brisket with dried cherries on Epicurious, I replaced the dried with fresh which turned out to be a delicious decision.
Wine-Braised Brisket with Tart Cherries
- 1/4 cup matzoh cake meal (see Cooks’ notes)
- Kosher or fine salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (6- to 6 1/2-pound) first- or second-cut beef brisket
- 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 16 medium shallots (about 1 pound); peeled, leaving root ends intact
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups Pinot Noir
- 2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) cherries
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 whole star anise (see Cooks’ notes) I was unable to find star anise and used a few cloves instead
- 2 pounds young, slim carrots in bunches (not pre-cut variety), peeled
Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Whisk together matzoh meal with 1 tablespoon kosher salt (2 teaspoons fine) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pat brisket dry and dredge in matzoh mixture, shaking off excess.
Set roasting pan across 2 burners and in it heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Brown brisket (fat side down first if using first cut) on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large platter or rimmed baking sheet.
If necessary, add remaining tablespoon oil, then reduce heat to medium, and cook shallots, turning occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, then stir in chicken stock, cherries, sugar, balsamic vinegar, star anise, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon fine salt). Bring to a simmer and return brisket, fat side up, to pan. Cover pan tightly with heavy-duty foil or a double layer of regular foil, and braise in oven for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, blanch carrots in a 3-quart pot of well-salted boiling water. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and pat dry.
Add carrots to roasting pan (after meat has braised for 2 hours), then cover again tightly with foil, and continue to braise in oven, until meat is fork-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more.
If serving soon, transfer meat to a cutting board and let it rest, loosely covered, 15 minutes, then slice meat across the grain. Skim off any excess fat from surface of sauce, then discard star anise, and season to taste with salt. Reheat sauce, then return sliced meat to sauce to reheat before serving. Serve meat with sauce and carrots on a large deep platter. (If making brisket ahead, see Cooks’ Notes.)
Cooks’ notes: •You can easily make your own matzoh cake meal by finely grinding regular matzoh meal in a clean, electric coffee/spice grinder.
•First-cut brisket with a single side of exterior fat is relatively lean, while second-cut is more evenly marbled throughout. While second-cut has more succulent, moister meat, either works well in this recipe.
•Each star anise is composed of 8 petals, so if the star anise you buy has no complete stars, count out 16 petals.
•Regular-size carrots can be substituted for the smaller variety. Use same weight indicated, and cut them diagonally into 1-inch-thick pieces before blanching.
•Brisket, like all braised meats, improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead, if not 3 days ahead. Leave brisket whole and let cool in sauce, uncovered, before chilling, covered. When ready to serve, remove meat from sauce, and discard solidified fat from sauce. Slice meat across the grain while it’s still cold (it will cut into neater slices), then reheat gently in sauce, in oven or on top of the stove.
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