BEEF BRISKET A LA CARBONNADE (for eight)
This recipe, in which brisket is braised in beer with plenty of onions, is one of the national dishes of Belgium.
one 3-1/2 to 4 pound beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise (6 cups)
1 Turkish bay leaf or ½ California bay leaf
one 12 ounce bottle beer (not dark)
1 dried porcini bouillon cube (less than ½ ounce) or beef bouillon cube, crumbled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1.Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350*.
2. Pat brisket dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 6 to 8 quart wide heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown meat well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add onions and bay leaf to fat remaining in pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer half of onions to a bowl. Set brisket over onions in pot, then top with remaining onions. Add beer, bouillon cube and vinegar (liquid should come about halfway up sides of meat; add water if necessary) and bring to a boil.
4. Cover pot, transfer to oven and braise until meat is very tender, 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Let the meat cool in sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
5. Transfer brisket to a cutting board. Skim off any fat from sauce, discard bay leaf and season sauce with salt and pepper. Slice meat across grain and serve with sauce.
NOTE: The brisket actually improves in flavor if braised 2 days ahead. Cool the meat in the sauce, uncovered. Cover it with parchment paper or wax paper, then the lid and refrigerate. Remove any solidified fat before reheating. To reheat, slice the cold meat across the grain and arrange in a shallow baking pan. Spoon the sauce over the meat and reheat in a 325* oven for 45 minutes.
from Ruth Reichl (editor), The Gourmet Cookbook