by Caroline Cazes
So you found your perfect uptown apartment with that spacious kitchen that is the envy of all your downtown friends. Naturally those friends are urging you to have them over, and eager to show off your new place you plan your first dinner party. How exciting! Now what will you make?
I have one word that has been consuming my epicurean obsessed mind this chilly New York winter.
That muscly dense cut of lower chest beef that might stir up memories of your Yiddish grandma or a Texan barbecue. You will find this dish to be the most magically transformed melt in your mouth deliciousness that will leave your guests wowed and your kitchen relatively clean. Also you will remain relatively unscathed as this might be the easiest special occasion meal you have ever cooked.
Surf the web for recipes and you will find mixes of unusual sauce ingredients reminiscent of a childhood science projects. Examples include ketchup, cranberry sauce, coffee grinds, beer, onion soup mix and soy sauce. You will also find that recipes range from relatively simple to rather complex in ingredient mix. I encourage you explore your options and then pick a recipe based on personal taste. Don’t be put off by strange ingredients. One of my family’s favorite recipes is this Food Network Moroccan Brisket for its apricot and onion flavor
Regardless of the recipe, brisket is usually prepared in two easy steps that will allow you to curl up with a glass of wine and a good book while a delicious aroma emerges from your oven.
1. Mix the sauce per your recipe
2. Put the meat and sauce in the oven
Make sure to follow the following tips that I have developed in my period of brisket exploration…
1. Pick a fattier cut of meat if possible, this way your brisket wont dry out
2. Keep your oven at 325 degrees (and don’t worry about recommendations to use a slow cooker, your oven will do just fine)
3. Double the sauce the recipe calls for I promise you and your guests will be asking for it
4. Add an hour or two to the recipe stated cooking time to ensure that the brisket is properly transformed
5. Once you have mixed your ingredients wrap the brisket with the sauce tightly in aluminum foil and then place it in a casserole dish in the oven this will create a pouch sealing the flavor into the brisket it will also make for that easy clean up I promised as you can simply throw the foil away
6. When it’s time to take the brisket out of the oven, slice it, baste it in sauce and let it rest before serving.
Make a simple side – I promise you the sauce and meat combo will be the star of the show so consider a side that will support your star without overwhelming you… Mashed potatoes or broad egg noodles are always a good bet. I recently roasted some beets and butternut squash during the last hour of cooking the brisket. If you are really feeling adventurous, potato pancakes or latkes can complete that perfect grandma inspired meal – I recommend Bobby Flay’s recipe as he understands the importance of onions.
Here are some brisket recipes I am especially fond of:
Simplest – From “The Pioneer Woman”
Tangy Spiced Jewish Deliciousness (maybe my favorite) – From “The Smitten Kitchen”
Braised Brisket - From Tyler Florence
Here’s where to get your brisket uptown:
Fairway - 2328 12th Ave New York, NY 10027 – www.fairwaymarket.com
Harlem Shambles - 2141 Frederick Douglass Blvd New York, NY 10026 – www.harlemshambles.com