Note: this recipe was part of a book I wrote called Eat Like A Maisel.
Yield: 6–8 servings
You’ve gotta love Midge’s unwavering support of Joel’s comedy career, especially her knack for getting Joel better time slots. Stand-up can be a grind. In the current New York comedy scene, fledgling comedians perform on “bringer shows”—comedians bring paying audience members in exchange for a spot on the show. I perform at a club with a ten-person bringer requirement. When I first started out, I didn’t have ten friends (I still don’t) so I did favors (wink) for the producer.
Even if you don’t do stand-up, the Brisket can grease the wheels on any important thing you need done. Need your car fixed? Brisket. Want a promotion? Brisket. Need your neighbor to do some weird favor involving a snow shovel, some rope, and a petting zoo? Brisket.
This brisket is easy enough to be a weeknight meal but would be equally at home for a special occasion.
1 pound (453 g) carrots, 1⁄2-inch dice
1 pound (453 g) celery, 1⁄2-inch dice
1 pound (453 g) onions, 1⁄2-inch dice
1 brisket, 3–5 pounds, fat and silverskin trimmed (I prefer only a thin strip of fat on top)
Kosher salt, as needed
4 tablespoons (50 g) canola oil
1 750 ml bottle of dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or merlot
32 ounces (1 L) beef stock
Maldon sea salt, as needed
Preheat the oven to 275 ̊F.
For the vegetables
Wash the carrots by running them under cold water and rubbing them with your fingers. The point here is to dislodge any dirt. We’re not going to be eating the carrots in the end, so presentation isn’t as important. Dry the carrots with a dish towel. Remove the root end and cut lengthwise to halve each carrot. Cut lengthwise again to quarter the carrots. Cut crosswise into 4-inch-long sticks. Congrats, you’ve just made carrot sticks! We want 1⁄4-inch-thick dice for this preparation, so cut each stick crosswise into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. You can group three or four sticks together to speed up this process. Set aside in a small bowl.
Remove the root end of the celery by cutting crosswise about 1 to 2 inches up from the root. You want to remove the root and the whitest parts of the celery. Separate the stalks and wash, using your fingers to dislodge any dirt. Dry, cut into 4-inch-long sticks, then cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch- thick slices. Set aside in a small bowl.
Remove the top (opposite the root end) of each onion. Stand the onion on the cut side and cut in half through the root end. Remove the dry outer layers. With the large cut side down, slice downward every 1⁄4 inch, making sure not to cut all the way through the onion. Hold the onion from the top and make horizontal cuts every 1⁄4 inch. Now, make vertical cuts every 1⁄4 inch down the length of the onion. You’ve just diced an onion! Set aside.
For the brisket
Trim excess fat and silverskin. Salt the entire exterior of the brisket. Grab a few fingers’ worth of kosher salt and sprinkle over the meat from a height of at least 12 inches. Why so high? Because this results in a more even coating of salt. Don’t worry about the amount of salt you’re using here. This may seem like a lot, but remember, that there’s a lot of meat beneath the surface, and a lot of the salt falls off in the cooking process. Repeat for all sides of the brisket.
Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a large pan over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, carefully add the brisket—try to avoid splattering everywhere, cussing, and having your spouse roll her eyes at you while suggesting you just order pizza and try to be a man. When the meat is browned on its first side, after about 2 to 4 minutes, flip it to another side. Repeat until all sides are browned, about 12 minutes total. If a side sticks, give it another minute instead of forcing it up. Once complete, remove the brisket from the pan and set aside. Spoon the fat out of the pan. It’s served its purpose, and will only dilute the flavor in the completed dish. Do not wipe the pan clean.
The pan should have brown stuff stuck to the bottom. This is good. This is flavor. We’re going to deglaze the pan, freeing up that yummy brown stuff. The brown stuff is technically called fond. And I’m fond of fond.
Turn the heat to medium, add the wine, and use a wooden spatula to scrape up the brown bits. This is called deglazing. Reduce the wine to a glaze, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add the brisket back to the pan. Optionally, and to make things easier in the final steps, cut a piece of cheesecloth larger than the pan and cover the meat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery on top of the cheesecloth. Add enough beef stock to cover everything. Gather the cheesecloth and place it inside the pan. Place the pan over high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Remember, simmer does not mean a boil. You should see water vapor coming off the top, but it shouldn’t be bubbling. Once it reaches a simmer, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. If you’re in a rush, you can increase the heat to 325 ̊F and cook for less time, but the meat won’t be as tender.
Remove the pan from the oven. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth, lift the vegetables out of the pan and reserve to a large bowl. Remove the brisket to a cooling rack to drain for a moment, and then transfer to a cutting board.
Heat the remaining liquid in the Dutch oven over medium high heat and reduce by half to concentrate the flavors. Reserve.
Slice the brisket across the grain into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. Don’t know where the grain is? Grab a corner of the brisket and pull. You should end up with a long strand of meat. That is the direction of the grain. Cut across that. Arrange the slices on a serving platter. Scatter the reserved vegetables around the meat and drizzle some of the reserved sauce over the whole thing. Top with a few generous pinches of Maldon sea salt.