Brisket goes wrong, warns Anya Fernald, when it’s cooked so long that it breaks down into a big pile of pulled beef swamped in liquid. Instead, she sears the beef on the stove before braising it in the oven until the meat is tender, but still firm enough to be sliced.
Makes 6 servings
4 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs rosemary
4 juniper berries
2 whole cloves
1 bottle (750-ml) dry red wine
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Trim and discard some of the visible fat cap from the brisket. Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When pan is very hot, add brisket, fat side down, and sear until deep golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip brisket and sear on second side until brown, about 5 minutes more.
3. Transfer brisket to a roasting pan and add onion, peppercorns, rosemary, juniper berries, and cloves. Pour in wine, then add enough water so that the liquid reaches halfway up side of brisket. Cover pan with aluminum foil, transfer to oven, and cook until brisket is tender, but not falling apart (you want to be able to slice, not shred, it), about 4 hours.
4. Remove pan from oven and carefully transfer brisket to a rimmed baking sheet. Increase oven temperature to 375°F. Pour braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup and set aside. Return meat to oven until a dark brown crust forms on top, about 20 minutes.
5. Transfer brisket to a cutting board and let rest before cutting it against the grain into ó-inch-thick slices. Skim and discard any fat that’s risen to top of reserved braising liquid. If braising liquid is too thin for your liking, transfer to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced; season to taste with salt and pepper. Put sliced brisket on a platter and spoon some braising liquid over top. Serve warm.
Photographs reprinted from Home Cooked by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana. Copyright © 2016 by Anya Fernald. Photography copyright © 2016 by Brown W. Cannon III. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.