To the horror of chef Daniel Rose (see page 68) of Spring Restaurant in Paris, it is impossible to find an American brisket in France. It just doesn't exist. American butchers tend to cut larger pieces of meat. Five- or six-pound briskets (poitrines) or huge rib-eye steaks (entrecotes) are the result of sawing through the muscle or the shoulder section of the animal. French butchers, by contrast, cut around the contours of the muscles to yield more tender but much smaller pieces. French Jews tend to use a breast of veal that usually has a pocket inside it for stuffing for their brisket. In this version, Daniel applies French techniques to make a perfectly delicious brisket with a subtle hint of orange in the sauce. I always make this dish a day in advance.
One 3- to- 5-pound veal or beef brisket
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 small spring onions, trimmed and halved, or 2 medium onions, thickly sliced
6 carrots, peeled
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups veal, beef or chicken stock
3 small tomatoes, halved
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh parsley, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
One 1/2-inch slice of fresh ginger
Green top of 1 leek
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the brisket with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Pour the oil into a Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the meat for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove, and set aside. Add the onions, carrots and garlic cloves to the Dutch oven, cooking until they are just beginning to soften, adding more oil if necessary.
Raise the heat, pour in the cider vinegar, and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the white wine and continue stirring, allowing the liquid to reduce for a few minutes.
Put the meat back in the pot, along with the stock. Bring to a simmer, and add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, parsley sprigs, ginger and leek top.
Using a straight peeler, remove the zest in long strips from one of the lemons and one of the oranges. Add to the pot. Cover, and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees, and continue cooking for 2 to 2 1/2 more hours, or until tender.
Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot. Discard the citrus peels, thyme and parsley sprigs, ginger, bay leaf and leek top. If cooking in advance, let the pot cool, and refrigerate the brisket in the sauce.
Before serving, remove the meat and slice on the bias. Put the meat back in the sauce, and reheat in a warm oven or on the stovetop. Arrange the meat on a serving platter along with the vegetables.
Strain the sauce into a pan, and reduce it over high heat to concentrate the flavor and thicken. Pour the sauce over the sliced brisket, and, before serving, sprinkle with the grated zests of the remaining lemon and orange and the chopped parsley.
Excerpted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan. Copyright 2010 Joan Nathan. Excerpted by permission by Knopf.