This is magical brisket. It has special powers: the aroma may hearken even vegetarians to the table, let alone meat lovers. Diners may eat slightly more of it than they need or think they should, and they will be warmly sated at the end of the meal. The savory meat is tender and juicy, and marries beautifully with the sweet dishes that are de rigueur on the Rosh Hashana table — and also with spicy dishes, roast vegetables, and just about anything else with which you would like to pair it.
And if all this deliciousness is not enough for you to believe in magic, I believe this may clinch it: the brisket may be made weeks in advance and frozen, and is truly just as good when reheated. And — hold your gasps — you can freeze leftovers a second time.
There is one rule of engagement when making this brisket: make more than you need, and send a portion or two home with each family member. (Don’t forget to set some aside for your household) They will think of you lovingly when they smell their take-home heating up.
Classic Stovetop Brisket
When buying brisket, bear in mind that it usually loses 40 to 50-percent of its weight as it cooks. In other words, when you start out with a 5-pound brisket, you end up with between 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of cooked meat.
1 5-pound brisket
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Parsley for garnish, if desired
1. Season the entire surface of the meat with the paprika, oregano, salt and pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or deep sauté pan large enough to hold the meat in a single layer. (It is OK if the meat initially goes up the side a little in order to fit.) Place the meat in the pan and cook until the underside is browned, about 6 minutes or so. Turn and again brown the underside. Add the celery and onions to the pan, lifting the meat up a little to tuck some of the vegetables underneath it. Stir in 1/2 cup of water, reduce the heat to medium low (a very gentle simmer), cover and cook about 3 hours.
3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and cook until the meat is very tender, about another 1 hour. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and allow it to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the brisket across the grain into 1/8 to 1/4-inch slices. Return the meat to the pan and spoon some of the liquid in the pan over the slices. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the meat is very tender and the juices somewhat thickened, about another 1 hour.
Makes 8 to 10 servings