What’s a Rosh Hashanah dinner without brisket? (What’s any dinner without brisket?, you may ask. To which I reply, “A mediocre one.”) Herewith, a recipe for brisket that’s, well, killer. And you know that’s the truth, because it comes straight from Judy Bart Kancigor’s mom via Judy’s scrumptious cookbook Cooking Jewish.
My Mom’s Killer Brisket
serves 8 to 10
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 to 5 pounds first-cut beef brisket
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup sweet red wine or water
1 cup pineapple or orange juice
1 package dehydrated onion soup mix
2 to 3 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg to taste
3 cups (1 1/2 pounds) pitted prunes, dried apricots, or a combination
1/2 cup raisins
3 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Paprika, for sprinkling
1. The day before serving, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat (fat side down first), and brown it well on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate.
2. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring often, until they are soft and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Then stir in 3 cups water and the wine, juice, onion soup mix, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, return the meat to the pot, cover, and simmer until a fork can pierce the meat but it is not quite done, 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool somewhat. Then remove the meat and slice off all visible fat. Transfer the meat, with the gravy, to a large bowl or container and refrigerate it, covered, overnight.
4. The next day, preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and skim off the congealed fat. Remove the meat and cut it into 1/4- to 3/8-inch-thick slices. Set it aside.
6. Transfer the gravy to a Dutch oven or other large, heavy, ovenproof pot and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the honey, brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of the salt, or more to taste, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return the sliced meat to the pot. Add the prunes and raisins. Arrange the sweet potatoes and carrots on top. Baste the meat and vegetables with the sauce and bring back to a boil.
7. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake, covered, for 30 minutes, basting after 15 minutes.
8. Sprinkle the potatoes and carrots lightly with paprika, and continue baking, uncovered this time, basting every 15 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes. If you like (and if your oven has a broiling mode), turn the oven setting to broil, place the pot on the lowest rack, and broil the potatoes and carrots briefly until crisp.
9. Serve hot.
*For all you Gentiles out there, tsimmes is “a traditional stew for Passover, made from a combination of sweet potatoes and dried fruit.”