They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but here I am, an old dog when it comes to certain recipes, telling you that I have learned a new trick, and it is good. The beef brisket recipe I make came from my mother, who got it from her mother, and except for updating the braising wine from sweet to dry, I've stuck by that recipe for more than 30 years. But. A few weeks ago, while driving home from the local apple orchard, I had a brisket epiphany. Why not, I thought, combine wine and cider in the braise? When I got home, the (wine) cupboard was bare, so I moved on to Plan B, a cider-and-herb combination with onion and garlic. Wow. I won't say I'll never go back to my grandmother's recipe, but I'm definitely putting this apple cider brisket into frequent rotation.
Oven-braised apple cider brisket
2 lb flat-cut beef brisket
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper, divided
4 cups unsweetened apple cider
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
10 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 Tbsp dried thyme leaf
1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Allow the brisket to come to room temperature (30-60 minutes out of the refrigerator). Season both sides with salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.
In a high-sided nonstick roasting pan just large enough to hold the meat, brown the meat on all sides over medium-high heat.
When the meat is brown, add one cup of the cider to the pan. It will boil instantly. Let it boil for 30 seconds, then add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook for another minute, and add the remaining three cups of cider and another 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
Cover the pan tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil, and place in the oven. Cook for 4-1/2 hours at 325F. The meat should be fork tender.
Remove the meat to a serving dish or casserole, and cover it lightly with a piece of the aluminum foil from the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the stove top over high heat. While the cider is coming to a boil, mix the cornstarch or arrowroot with 2 tablespoons of water, and set aside.
Allow the cider in the pan to boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and whisk to make sure there are no lumps. The sauce should thicken slightly, but not become gloppy.
With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, garlic and thyme stems from the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce over the brisket, or serve some in a gravy boat on the table.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Southwestern pulled brisket, from Smitten Kitchen
Brisket tacos, Dallas style, from Homesick Texan
Lou Lambert's coffee-rubbed roasted brisket, from Nutritionl Unplugged
Beef brisket rice vermicelli soup, from Christine's Recipes
Oven "smoked" beef brisket, from Cooking by the Seat of our Pants
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