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BRAISED BRISKET WITH THIRTY-SIX CLOVES OF GARLIC AND JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE PUREE
36 fat whole garlic cloves or equivalent amount of smaller cloves, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
One 5-pound first-cut beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat, wiped with a damp paper towel, and patted dry
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup red wine
5 cups beef or chicken broth, preferably homemade, or good-quality low-sodium canned
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Drop the remaining whole garlic cloves into boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain immediately. Peel as soon as garlic is cool enough to handle. Set the peeled garlic aside on paper towels to dry.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or casserole large enough to accommodate the meat in one layer, using two burners, if necessary. Add brisket and brown well on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and set aside.
Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat remaining in pan and add peeled garlic cloves and shallots. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are just tinged with gold. Add the wine and deglaze pan, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add 3 cups of the stock, thyme, and 2 of the rosemary sprigs, and reduce heat to a simmer. Salt and pepper the brisket to taste on all sides, and add to pan, fat-side up. Spoon the garlic and shallots over the meat.
Braise the brisket in the oven, covered (if you have no lid, use heavy-duty foil), basting every half hour, until the meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
While brisket is cooking, place the Jerusalem artichokes in a medium saucepan with the remaining 2 cups of stock and a sprig of rosemary. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until very tender. In a food processor, blend the chokes with as much of the cooking liquid as needed to make a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep the puree warm. (If necessary, you can gently reheat the puree, adding more reserved cooking liquid as needed.)
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board when it is done, and tent it loosely with foil.
To prepare the gravy, strain the pan juices, reserving garlic and shallots and discarding the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Skim and discard as much fat as possible from the strained liquid. Puree the reserved cooked garlic and shallots with 1 cup of the defatted braising liquid in a food processor or a blender. Transfer the pureed mixture and remaining braising liquid to a skillet. Add reserved chopped rosemary, minced garlic, and lemon zest. Reduce the gravy over high heat, uncovered, to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Mound the Jerusalem artichoke puree attractively on a serving platter. Cut brisket into thin slices across the grain at a slight diagonal. Arrange the sliced brisket over the puree. Spoon some hot gravy over the meat and serve the rest in a separate sauce boat. Garnish the platter with lemon rounds and bunches of thyme and rosemary.
Cook's Note: This is a version of one of Jayne's most popular recipes from her book, The Gefilte Variations: 200 Inspired Re-creations of Classics from the Jewish Kitchen. It is an excellent make-ahead dish: the meat actually benefits from a day's rest. It's also easier to degrease the pan juices when refrigerator-cold - just scrape off the congealed fat. Adding the minced rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest to the gravy right before serving ensures that the dish will be bright and fresh-tasting.
Yield: 8 - 10 servings