In England there is a Sunday tradition of a roast, and when it comes to the holiday season, my heart demands that roast must be a braised brisket. It’s never too early to start celebrating Hanukkah. Warm, crumbly, comforting. Doused in gravy. How can you not salivate thinking of it?
This Sunday, I tied a brisket in the shape of a roast, and braised it with whole garlic cloves, onions, thyme, and dry mustard, blipping away in Cognac and wine and beef broth. The result was slices of tender and intensely flavorful beef. Then, I turned the braising bath and beef juices into a gorgeous, thick, sweet onion and hot mustard gravy. The zing of the Dijon and whole grain mustards cut through the heaviness of the meat, and gave it a different, complex, more interesting taste than just a plain beef gravy. A Frenchified English-Jewish classic.
We ate it at a big table in the kitchen, with all the doors to the London garden wide open even in the autumn chill. It was just right somehow. Heavy food, a cold bite in the air, and light company. And two whole boules of bread to sop up that mustard gravy. Keep the leftovers for sandwiches and slather with extra mustard. You won’t be disappointed.
Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.
- 2 1/2 pounds brisket, tied in a round with butcher’s twine
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, skin on
- 1/3 cup Cognac
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Rub the brisket all over with the mustard and thyme, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours to overnight.
Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil over medium-heat in a Dutch oven. When the oil shimmers, brown the meat on all sides: this should take about 12 minutes.
Set the meat aside, and add the onions to the pan. You may need to add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if the pan is too dry. Sauté just until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Deglaze with the Cognac, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Place the brisket back in the pot, along with the red wine and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot, and simmer for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, set the meat aside to rest. Boil the liquid in the Dutch oven vigorously until 4 cups remains. Lift out the garlic cloves, and squeeze the contents back into the pan. Pour the liquid, onions, and garlic into the food processor.
Mash together the butter and flour until well combined, and add along with the two mustards to the food processor. Whiz until smooth.
Cut the twine off the brisket, and slice into thin slices. Serve with the mustard gravy.
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