The Food and Wine Hedonist

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The Garlic Chronicles: Pain-in-the-tookis Beef Brisket

Earlier this year, during some episode of Top Chef Seattle, one of the chefs presented her restaurant idea called “Unkosher,” which would feature non-traditional Jewish food.  I automatically dismissed it as not so much weird or bad, but just…OK, I just didn’t get it.  It haunted me a for a while and I rued on it, trying to figure out what the heck that actually meant.  And I still had no idea.   But I figured, WTF, I’ll try to make something Jewish.  Yeah, I know it makes no sense.

Anyway, I decided to make beef brisket and came across this recipe.  I had just picked up an obscene amount of garlic at Costco, so this was perfect.   Overall, it tasted ok – about as meh as you can get.

But one thing I gotta talk about is their suggested method for peeling large amounts of garlic.  If it’s one or two, I’ll smash it with the side of a knife and peel it .  But there was a need to have it whole.  You can make a little incision on it and peel it by hand, but OJ Simpson will be out of jail by the time you peel the required 36 cloves of garlic.   They suggested dropping them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then peeling when they cool down a little.

Well, it doesn’t work.  It sucked.  It was a major pain in the ass (that’s the English word for “tookis”).  I have a great way of peeling large quantities, but at this point it was too late.  Stay tuned, I’ll show you in an upcoming post.

brisket servedrecipe

Braised Brisket with 36 Cloves of Garlic

Taken from Epicurious

– About 36 fat unpeeled garlic cloves (1 2/3 to 2 cups) or an equivalent amount of smaller cloves, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic

– 3 tablespoons olive oil

– A first-or second-cut beef brisket (about 5 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, wiped with a damp paper towel, and patted dry

– 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

– 3 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade or good-quality low-sodium purchased

– 3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 2 teaspoons dried leaves

– 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped leaves

– Salt and freshly ground black pepper

– 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Jewish recipe 

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Drop the garlic cloves into a small saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain immediately. Peel as soon as the garlic is cool enough to handle. Set aside on paper towels to dry.

3. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or casserole large enough to accommodate the meat in one layer. Use two burners, if necessary. Add the brisket and brown well on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a platter and set aside. (Or brown the meat under the broiler: place the brisket, fat side up, on a foil-lined broiler pan under a preheated broiler. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until browned. Don’t allow it to develop a hard, dark crust, which might make the meat tough or bitter. Move the meat around as necessary, so it sears evenly.)

4. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat remaining in the pan and add the garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic edges are tinged with gold. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, thyme, and rosemary sprigs, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Salt and pepper the brisket to taste on all sides, and add it to the pan, fat side up. Spoon the garlic cloves over the meat.

brisket roasting

5. Place the brisket in the oven, cover (if you have no lid, use heavy-duty foil), and cook, basting every half-hour, until the meat is fork tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours or longer. (As the meat cooks, periodically check that the liquid is bubbling gently. If it is boiling rapidly, turn the oven down to 300°F.)

6. The brisket tastes best if it is allowed to rest, reabsorbing the juices lost during braising, and it’s easiest to defat the gravy if you prepare the meat ahead and refrigerate it until the fat solidifies. That is the method I use, given here, but the gravy can be prepared by skimming the fat in the traditional way, if you prefer. If you go that route though, do let the meat rest in the pan sauce for at least an hour.

7. Cool the brisket in the pan sauce, cover well with foil, and refrigerate until the fat congeals. Scrape off all solid fat. Remove the brisket from the pan and slice thinly across the grain.

brisket sliced

8. Prepare the gravy: Bring the braising mixture to room temperature, then strain it, reserving the garlic and discarding the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Skim and discard as much fat as possible from the liquid. Puree about one half of the cooked garlic with 1 cup of the defatted braising liquid in a food processor or a blender. (If you want a smooth gravy, puree all of the cooked garlic cloves.) Transfer the pureed mixture, the remaining braising liquid, and the rest of the cooked garlic to a skillet. Add the chopped rosemary, minced garlic, and lemon zest. Boil down the gravy over high heat, uncovered, to the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Rewarm the brisket in the gravy until heated through.

9. Arrange the sliced brisket on a serving platter. Spoon some of the hot gravy all over the meat and pass the rest in a separate sauce boat.



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

17 comments on “The Garlic Chronicles: Pain-in-the-tookis Beef Brisket

  1. seasonedwithsarcasm
    May 21, 2013

    It’s kind of depressing that a recipe that contains all that garlic, and brisket, was only meh. It hurts my food loving heart. 😦
    It LOOKs delicious! Maybe a beef stock and some extra salt would help.
    And I’m looking forward to your quick peeling garlic method. I love garlic, but loathe the peeling process. Especially when you need more than 6 cloves of the stuff!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      May 21, 2013

      It wasn’t that bad…The beef was just ok, but the gravy itself was really good. Yes, hope to have that peeling method posted Thursday!

  2. Yinzerella
    May 21, 2013

    You can get already peeled cloves at the grocery store, I think.

  3. rachelocal
    May 21, 2013

    So should we or should we not make this recipe? Was the recipe “meh” or all that garlic peeling?

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      May 21, 2013

      So thanks for pointing out my shortcomings as a writer… 😉

      The garlic peeling sucked (at least with their method) and that probably tempered my enthusiasm for the beef. The beef tasted fine and probably worth a try, but it’s not something that I would consider a go-to recipe. I think if I had another slab in front of me, I’d smoke the thing and slather it in barbecue sauce.

      The gravy did kick booty though. A few more cloves and the Cullens won’t come near Delaware.

      • seasonedwithsarcasm
        May 21, 2013

        hmmm…I’m wondering if a different cut of meat would take it from meh to EPIC. I mean, if the gravy is bomb, maybe brisket wasn’t the best meat option. I feel like a roast would up the outcome. Hmmmm. Perhaps I will make this, with a roast.
        Brisket is for smoking…and dammit! Now I want smoked brisket!!! with some real good bbq sauce.

  4. the winegetter
    May 21, 2013

    Sucks it didn’t work out as you had hoped. I’ve had a couple of briskets where I had the same feeling: was it really worth the effort? And then you come across one that is, and you know it is worth it!

  5. acrusteaten
    May 21, 2013

    Does your method involve a large pot with a lid and a lot of physical exertion?

  6. operab
    May 21, 2013

    I love to make brisket (tacos) in the slow cooker. SO good.
    Also: pre-peeled garlic

  7. talkavino
    May 21, 2013

    well, when the recipe calls for 36 garlic cloves, just buy peeled garlic – but even smashing 36 cloves open with the knife doesn’t sound like too much work?

    Now, brisket should be cooked slowly. You want to do it at 275, may be 300, for 5-6 hours. It is absolutely delicious then, and also it requires some sweetness to accompany the meat – I usually use tons of dried fruits and overall this dish is very easy to make and absolutely delicious. If you didn’t have a good brisket yet, let me know when you are down in Connecticut, I will make one for you 🙂

  8. The Byronic Man
    May 22, 2013

    I’m one of those people who can put just absurd amounts of garlic on things. I don’t even care how bad it makes me smell (which, according to my wife, is very bad).

    I’m a bit of a philistine, though, about pre-smashed garlic. I’d rather peel and crush my own, but I’m okay with going the easy route.

  9. Pingback: The Garlic Chronicles – How to Peel a Ton of Garlic Super Quick. And a Toum Failure. | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  10. Michael Carnell
    May 29, 2013

    Sounds yummy. Feel free to invite me for dinner any time.

  11. more info here
    January 15, 2016

    Its aight. Ive seen better

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This entry was posted on May 21, 2013 by in Cooking and tagged , , , , , , .
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