(serves 8-10, with leftovers for sandwiches)
When you buy trimmed brisket from your butcher, expect a 25% loss due to cooking. To get about 8 oz of cooked meat per person, start with 1 lb of untrimmed brisket or 12 oz trimmed brisket. I like getting both the flat end of the brisket and the “point”, which is a essentially a whole brisket. That way, the lean meat lovers get the flat or “first cut” and those of us who like some serious fat marbling can enjoy the point end.
Using the dashi in this braise is a trick we employ often at Ivan ramen. It provides a subtle smoky note that marries so well with beef, and particularly with brisket. The fish flavor does not come through, but rather a complex depth of flavor and umami. Fear not…. Also, this can be done up to three days ahead and then gently reheated, sliced in it’s sauce, covered, in a 350 oven.
For the Brisket:
1, 8-10 lb trimmed whole brisket
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large onions, rough chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and rough chopped
12 peeled garlic cloves, whole
1, 3-inch piece fresh ginger root, lightly smashed
1/2 cup soy sauce
½ cup sake or dry white vermouth
3 cups dashi (HON dashi is fine)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 bunch scallions finely sliced (for the finished dish)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F
2. Cut the brisket in half leaving the flat on one side and the point on the other. This will make it easier to manage.
3. Dry the two pieces of brisket well with paper towels and season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
4. In a heavy bottomed pan, preheat half the oil until barely smoking. Sear the brisket well on both sides and transfer to an large, shallow, oven-safe pot, with a lid, large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Repeat with the second half of the brisket.
5. In the same pan, add the onions and carrots and sauté over medium heat for about 3 minutes. The vegetables will release some water and deglaze the pan of its caramelized meat juices.
6. Add the sake and boil another 30 seconds, scraping up any brown bits on the pan. Transfer the veggies and scrapings into the pot with the brisket.
7. Add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, dashi and chicken broth to the pot with the meat. The meat should be about 3/4 submerged in the liquid. If additional liquid is needed, add more chicken stock, or even water.
8. Place this pot on the stove burner and bring the liquid to a hard rolling boil.
As soon as the liquid boils, cover the pot and place in the oven. After one and a half hours, turn the meat over carefully and place back in the oven for another hour and a half.
9. Check meat for doneness by inserting a thin-bladed paring knife into the thickest part of the brisket. It should go in and out with no resistance. If the meat lifts up when the knife is being removed, it is not done yet. Total cooking time should be 3-4 hours.
10. When the meat is done, very carefully transfer to a platter, cover with foil and keep warm.
11. Strain the sauce (reserve the veggies, but discard the ginger.)
12. De-fat the sauce with a fat separator or a spoon (If making a day ahead, simply place the broth, fat and all, in the fridge. The next day the fat will be on top in a solid piece and can be easily removed. )
13. Add the veggies back to the sauce and puree with an immersion blender or very carefully with a blender if liquid is very hot. The veggies can also be passed through a food mill. The veggies with nicely thicken the sauce. If you would like the sauce a bit more thick, carefully whisk in some WONDRA flour while the sauce simmers to achieve the consistency you like. If avoiding gluten or wheat, one can use instant mashed potatoes, or cornstarch slurry to thicken as well.
14. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. We did not add any salt in the beginning because of the soy sauce and dashi.
15. Slice the meat in half-inch-thick slices ACROSS the visible grain of the meat, cover with the sauce, and serve more sauce on the side to slather on your latkes. Sprinkle the entire platter with the chopped scallions.