Braised Beef Brisket, Southern Italian Style
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 beef brisket(about 5 pounds), surface fat retained
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 - 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can diced tomatoes(28 ounces)
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 medium onions, quartered
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
- 4 ounces pancetta(or bacon), chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- Fresh parsley leavesfor garnish
1. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Crush spices or grind them coarsely; press them into brisket and set aside
2. Using two burners if necessary, heat oil in large, heavy roasting pan long and wide enough to hold brisket and at least 2 inches deep. Add brisket; cook over medium-high heat, turning once with tongs, until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove brisket and set aside. Add wine; bring to boil, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits; reduce by half. Add chicken broth and tomatoes; bring to simmer. Remove pan from heat. Season brisket lightly with salt, dried rosemary and oregano and return to roasting pan. Scatter vegetables and pancetta or bacon around brisket.
3. Put roasting pan in oven and cook, stirring vegetables occasionally to avoid burning, until thickest part of brisket reaches an internal temperature of around 130 degrees, about 20 minutes. Add enough broth to the pan to come about halfway up the side of the meat (another 1 to 3 cups).
4. Remove pan from oven; reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Do not return brisket to oven until temperature drops to 250 degrees. Add enough chicken stock to pan so that liquid comes about halfway up side of meat, baste brisket, and return to oven. Braise brisket, basting and turning every 1/2 hour or so, until meat just gives when pierced with meat thermometer and brisket’s internal temperature registers around 175 degrees, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
5. Remove brisket from braising liquid and wrap in foil. Strain braising liquid into large mixing bowl. Reserve vegetables, squeezing garlic cloves from heads. Transfer braising liquid to tall, narrow container, and let stand until fat rises. Skim and discard fat. Puree vegetables, including garlic, with 1/2 cup braising liquid in food processor or blender. Add olives, pureed vegetables and braising liquid to a sauté pan and simmer until reduced to thin sauce consistency; 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, cut brisket across the grain into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick). Arrange slices of meat on warm plates; generously ladle sauce over meat. Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.