Wednesday, December 17, 2008

RECIPE: Chanukah Brisket


We are almost on the cusp of Chanukah, so I thought that this would be a great opportunity to present a BBQ version of a Long Island Jewish classic. Brisket is a Jewish standard, right up there with chocolate gelt, amazing kosher delis and borscht belt comics. Unfortunately, the flavor of most briskets that I have had coming from the kitchens of Jewish friends was overpowered by the wine and onions. We are going to try to fix that and let the flavor of the meat shine while keeping the soul of the traditions in tact.

A quick note before we start – if you are preparing this for a friend or their family PLEASE check on their dietary requirements. If they keep kosher you will need to buy the brisket from a kosher purveyor and adhere to restrictions on cooking (such as cookware, utensils, etc.).

The traditional oven cooked holiday brisket has three main components.
1) The brisket itself. Go for the whole brisket. This can (and will) be upwards of 10 lbs. Try to get the butcher to cut off most of the fatcap, leaving about ½ an inch.
2) The wine. Briskets are often braised for 2.5 to 3.5 hours in red wine. We will be incorporating the wine, but as a marinade, an injection and a sauce.
3) Onion. Much of the intensity of flavor for traditional brisket comes from the inclusion of onion soup mix. We are eliminating this entirely and substituting smoked onions, which will be served alongside the brisket.

Other regional (and I guess cultural) commonalities include tomato and mushroom. We will use some of each in the sauce.

Lets start with the easy stuff.

SMOKED ONIONS

4 Large Vidalia Onions (peeled and quartered)
Drizzle onion quarters with olive oil.
Sprinkle lightly with your favorite rub (preferably something fairly sweet).
Place on aluminum foil and smoke with brisket for roughly 90 minutes.

MARINADE

1/2 cup salad or olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
4 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup brown sugar
1 clove crushed garlic
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. onions, diced
Reserve roughly ¼ cup for injection

Marinade the brisket in a plastic or glass container (or very large plastic bag) overnight. Rotate at least once. Inject the liquid into brisket in different locations, including under the fatcap.

BRISKET

After injection, coat your brisket with your favorite rub. I would use a mild rub to allow for the flavor of the meat to shine through. You are going to need about ¾ of a cup of rub. Wrap the brisket and put it back in the fridge for about 3 hours.
Get your smoker up to 225 – 240.
Use a mild/sweet wood, such as an apple and cherry mix.
Pop the brisket in the smoker for about 12 hours. Your internal temperature should be about 195 degrees.
Pull the brisket and let it sit for 30 minutes or so before slicing.

SAUCE (note: this is NOT a BBQ sauce)

2 tbsp. butter
1/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 tbsp. thinly sliced shallots
2 tsp. all purpose flour
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. red wine
1/4 c. water

Sautee mushrooms, shallots and garlic until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and add flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and tomato paste. Add wine and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for roughly 20 minutes.

To reiterate, if any of the ingredients are not kosher, the dish isn’t kosher.

Slice the brisket into roughly 1/4” slices. Serve the sauce on the side so that your guests can ‘ooohhh and ahhhh’ over the smoke ring. Serve the onions as a side dish. Voila. BBQ meats Chanukah.

Happy Holidays!!

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