1 January 2018
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, December 2017
I enjoy the beef brisket that I prepare almost every summer. It is a lengthy process as the brisket is brined then smoked on the grill then roasted in the oven. But the result is flavorful and tender, good for multiple meals and worth the effort. Thus I was interested when Cook's Illustrated published a recipe that I could use to make brisket without using the grill. A big piece of beef seemed an appropriate way to usher in the new year.
It is still a lengthy process to braise brisket so it is juicy and tender, about 6 hours not counting the time the salted brisket sits in the refrigerator. I purchased a 2.35 pound flat cut brisket, about half the size of the brisket in the recipe. The day before it was braised the brisket was poked full of holes, salted, wrapped in plastic, and placed in the refrigerator. Here it sat for about 22 hours. The next step is preparing the braising liquid: onions are softened in oil with a little baking soda. Garlic, anchovy paste (in place of anchovy fillets), tomato paste, cumin, cardamon, cayenne, and pepper are added followed by pomegranate juice, chicken broth, bay leaves, and gelatin. The brisket is added, the roasting pan covered, and it was roasted for 80 minutes at 325°. The oven temperature was reduced to 250° and the brisket was roasted to an internal temperature of 180°. This took another 160 minutes. The roast is removed and wrapped in foil and the braising liquid is strained. After wiping out the pan, the strained liquid is poured back in and put back into a 400° oven for 30 minutes to reduce. The roast is then sliced and the the reduced braising liquid is poured over it to warm it. The recipe calls for garnishes of cilantro and pomegranate seeds, which I skipped.
After all this work (more time than work, actually) we had enough brisket for 4 dinners and some sandwiches for lunch. It wasn't as beefy tasting as smoked brisket or, say, a good steak or pot roast. The sauce was different, it was OK but we didn't love it. After the fact I tasted the pomegranate juice and found I don't like it at all so that probably affected my reaction. I doubt I'll be making this recipe again.