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My Mom's Famous Beef Brisket


This recipe is guaranteed to make your guests love you forever. Making this recipe is all about cooking with love. Don't be too concerned with the measurements. It's going to be Delicious. My mother, known affectionately in my family as the "Brisket Queen," says in the recipe instructions that "proportions are vague, because life is vague. You will never be the brisket queen if you make it the same way twice. The only rule is not to follow the rules."

Serve the brisket with mashed or roasted potatoes and some sauteed zucchini, and ideally some thickly sliced challah that you can use to sop up the sauce at the end of the meal.  

Serves 6 people

3-4 lbs. of First Cut Beef Brisket
Flour, for coating the brisket
1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (or red, or shallots--whatever you've got around)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of dry red wine
1 bay leaf
Beef bouillon (ok, my mom and I differ here--I like to use homemade beef stock it's your choice!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large, heavy skillet or casserole dish (must have cover) over medium high heat. Add a thin film of olive oil (and I like to put in a small pat of butter...butter makes things better!). Place flour in a shallow dish. Season meat generously with salt and pepper and then dredge the meat in flour.

When oil is hot but not smoking, brown the meat on both sides, about 10 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove meat and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

Add chopped carrots, onions and garlic to the pan (add a little more olive oil if the pan is very dry). Stir well, scraping up brown bits on the bottom of the pan. After about 10 minutes, when the onion is wilted, add the red wine and raise the heat. Let it boil almost completely away.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 2-3 cubes of beef bouillon (or about 1 cup of beef stock) and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Taste the sauce. Add more crushed tomato if you feel it is too beefy, or more bouillon if it is too tomato-y. In my mother's recipe it also says to: "consider sugar if you're feeling tearful."

Return the meat to the pot and bring to a boil. The meat should be mostly covered with sauce. Cover and place in oven. Cook for about 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender. Turn the meat every hour or so, "splattering the oven artistically" every time you do.

When the meat is done. Remove from the gravy and allow to cool before slicing. Slice about 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices, against the grain. Put the meat on a platter if serving immediately, preferably a platter that "started life in your grandmother's kitchen," or in a shallow container if using later (meat can be made up to 3 days in advance, or frozen for up to 2 months). Top with sauce. Admire your masterpiece and serve to your very lucky guests.

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