Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pot Roast (Brisket)

For the whole recipe in 10 lines, just read the boldface.

This works for a brisket that will serve 6-8.  I use
       one flat-cut brisket, 3-4 pounds
For a much larger brisket, cut it in half and treat it like two, which you'll have to do anyway because you won't have a large enough baking dish or aluminum foil.

Put the brisket on a huge piece of heavy aluminum foil, about 3 times as long as the brisket.   You are going to seal the brisket in it.  (See below).  Next time I make it, I'll add a photograph in the comment section.

The original recipe calls for 1 package of Lipton's Dry Onion Soup sprinkled on top of the meat. I don't use Lipton's any more.  That's because when  I was in Israel 1997 I couldn't find dried soups.  I substituted chicken-style parve soup mix - it has that good MSG! - and dried onion flakes.  I liked having that extra degree of freedom.  The recipe has no room for individuality otherwise.  I rarely bother with Lipton's because I don't keep it on hand if I don't use it for brisket.

Sprinkle on top and press in with the back of a spoon
          2-3 tsps of chicken-style parve soup (or bouillion)
          3-4 tbls of dried onion flakes 

I pretty much cover the meat with both.  The soup mix particles are tiny so I don't make that dense a covering.  The dried onion doesn't totally cover, but I'm pretty generous with it, probably using more than is in a Lipton's packet.  I mush in both the soup mix and the dried onions with the back of a spoon after sprinkling, a technique used by our nanny, Amy Gronevelt, when I asked her to make the pot roast 20 years ago.

Possible substitution if you are low on onion flakes (or an addition if you like prunes)
          some prunes, cut in half or not, about 4 oz
I did this one day when I didn't have that much dried onion.  It wasn't as good as it is with lots of onions although the prunes themselves were delicious.

Why not use chopped fresh onions? I think it would be too watery.  The meat is wet enough.

Wrap the brisket up so it won't leak. I like to match the edges and then roll them down or fold them together. I learned this trick in the 1980s watching sandwich makers in those little delis that do a big lunch business in midtown Manhattan.  It's a good way to wrap food.  Warning:  It's hard to prevent leaks. Sometimes I double wrap to be safe.

Put the wrapped brisket in a baking dish so if it leaks it's not so messy.  I use pyrex because it cleans so easily.  I have to write up my household hints one of these days, but I'll tell you right now:  for ovenware that gets brown hard grease spots, the answer is BAKING SODA.  (For very big areas of baked-on mess, soak first with hot water and liquid soap.  Baking soda is the perfect scouring powder for everything because it's food, not poison, and it's only a tiny bit abrasive.  Check an unobtrusive area if you have to scour something delicate.)

The reason you want to prevent leaks is that you want the liquid for later reheating and serving. But the meat will not be dry even if there are major leaks.  The almost-totally-sealed cooking keeps it tender.

Bake at 225 F for 9 hours, or 10 or more.  I leave it in overnight, and even if I remember to turn off the oven, or put it on automatic stop, I don't always take the meat out to cool right away.  Brisket (to quote my step-mother-in-law Libby, but she said it about yeast dough) is very forgiving.  You can also bake at 300 F for 3 hours if you are pressed for time but the long slow version is better.

Peg Bracken said 200 F for 10 hours, but I think it's important to go above the boiling point of water.  That's 212 F for those of you who went to school after they stopped teaching such things.

If you make your brisket overnight, your home will smell lovely in the morning.

Cool and refrigerate or serve hot right away.  Refrigerating is nice, though, because it makes it easier to slice the meat, easier to skim the fat, and besides, you made it overnight and aren't eating it until suppertime.

When ready to eat, I recommend slicing ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.   I worry that if you don't eat it all up in the first couple of days, the slices dry out and get refrigerator-y much faster than a big uncut hunk would.

Serve hot or cold.  I usually reheat the slices with some of the liquid.  Microwave is OK.  Oven at ?300? for 20? minutes is OK.  Heating on the stove is OK.  Eating it cold in a sandwich is delicious, too. I like brisket on caraway rye bread with ketchup and lettuce.

(Based on a January 2012 email to my friend Marilyn that I stumbled on today.  This is one recipe I had never typed up.  It's too easy and I've done it often enough over the last 40-odd years that I don't forget.)

No comments:

Post a Comment