A few years ago, I participated in a fun event at Temple Israel Synagogue of Westport, CT, where I was one of the judges for a brisket throwdown competition. Although we used the term “competition” to announce the event, it was really a celebration of brisket recipes, of cooking and community coming together. Brisket is one of those dishes, where each family has its own traditional recipe. Until then, my association with brisket always brought memories of meat smothered in ketchup with too much sugar and too little salt. As I sampled one brisket after another, I realized that this association was frozen in my mind through some kind of one-time bad experience and the world of brisket is worth looking forward to. Brisket should be cooked like any tough, beefy cut: seasoned with salt and pepper, seared until deeply browned, strewn with aromatics and braised until fall-apart tender.
This recipe for Brisket with Prunes and Carrots, inspired by chef Lauren Braun Costello (author of The Competent Cook and Notes on Cooking) was just incredible. I made some mild changes to the original recipe, and the result is amazing! You want to brown the meat on top of the stove and then cook it in the oven low and slow. Blend the sauce to a rich spoonable liquid. And yeah, of course there will be some heat (in this case chipotle powder) because every hunk of meat deserves some heat!
As we brave this Passover all on our own during times of social distancing, I ‘d like to wish everyone who’s reading and/or cooking this and any recipe in this site, the most wonderful Passover!
May we heal and thrive together!
Passover Brisket with Prunes & Carrots
Inspired by chef Lauren Braun Costello
Serves 10-12 people
For the Spice Rub:
4 cubes beef bullion
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Brisket:
One 7-8 lb brisket (not too lean)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 large onions, chopped
2 teaspoon chipotle powder or chili powder
One 12 oz bottle beer
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 carrots, peeled and cut into sixths
1 cup pitted prunes
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
In a small bowl mix all the ingredients for the dry rub together. Pat the brisket dry and season all sides generously with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the brisket. Cook 5 minutes per side until nicely browned and the fat renders. Remove the brisket from the pan and set aside.
Add the garlic in the Dutch oven using the fat rendered from the brisket and cook until it just starts to turn golden. Be careful as the pan is already hot, so it will cook fast. Add the onions and chipotle powder and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the spice rub evenly to both sides of the already seared brisket. Return the brisket to the pan on top of the onion mixture. Pour the beer and Worcestershire. Place the carrots, prunes and cinnamon stick around the brisket and cover the pot. Place the pot in the oven and cook for 3 hours, checking once in a while to make sure the liquid level is good. If it seems a little dry, add ½ to 1 cup water.
Remove the pot from the oven and let the brisket rest inside the pan for at least 30 minutes before opening. Remove the brisket from the pot and transfer to a cutting board. Slice the brisket on the bias, against the grain and arrange on a platter.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots and prunes and distribute nicely along the meat. Cover with foil to keep moist.
Remove the cinnamon and any other large pieces of cooked meat or cooked vegetables. Using a ladle, transfer the remaining cooking liquid and puree in a blender. Pour the blended sauce on top of the meat/carrot prune making sure it’s covering all of the meat.
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