February 13 – February 19, 2023
Monday: Pasta Pomodoro, Green Salad
Tuesday: Cocoa-Coffee Rubbed Steaks, Winter Salad
Wednesday: Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs
Friday: Salade Nicoise
Sunday: Jewish Deli-Style Brisket, Mock Frîtes, Endive Salad with Candied Walnuts, Orange Caramel Dressing and Blue Cheese
For Christmas, our son Billy gave me a cookbook entitled MEAT. Some titles don’t leave much to the imagination. A few that come to mind are: An Introduction to Embalming, How to Field Dress a Deer, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and, of course, the aforementioned MEAT Everything You Need To Know, by Pat Lafrieda. Pat is the scion of the premier butcher of New York City and also, as it turns out, a knowledgeable cook, as was his father before him.
In an age when chefs are better known than Senators, it seems only fair that a butcher achieves the same status.
There is a lot to learn about various grades and cuts of meat – and I’m making fair progress there. But I already know how to eat the stuff and, while others are avoiding gluten, or carbs, or the wrong types of sugars or fats, I’ll be happily cooking and eating beef, chicken, lamb, pork, venison, boar, and other mammals and fowl. Feel free to condemn me, if you like, but you ought to drop by the house for one of our grilled steaks or Szechuan Lamb Chops, or barbecued ribs or – and this is a new dish for me, cooked from Lafrieda’s book: Brisket.
To be more precise, “Jewish Deli-Style Brisket,” which is something Lafrieda’s father introduced him to at an early age. Brisket, along with short ribs, is the most toothsome of beef cuts. It is certainly not for the faint-hearted or for those unwilling to spend more than an hour getting food on the table. But the sheer lusciousness of this meat is worth the trouble. Hell, it’s worth converting from vegetarianism or veganism to carnivorism and worth the price of Lafrieda’s book.
You’ll find the recipe below. But please give some thought to what you’ll have to accompany this dish. We had a sort of mock French fry – which I also give the recipe for below – and a really wonderful winter salad with bitter greens, oranges, blue cheese and candied walnuts. This is not a dish you want to eat every day – nor would you wish to cook it that often. But as a treat, you can hardly do better.
JEWISH DELI-STYLE BRISKET
Adapted from Pat Lafrieda [MEAT] – his own adaption of a David Levine recipe
Timing: 4 ½ – 5 Hours
1 brisket (4 lbs. or so) – Lafrieda advises to ask for the ‘second cut’ or fattier piece of brisket as the leaner cut will dry out too quickly. My experience is that most markets only offer the fattier cut and that you would do well to trim some of the hard fat before seasoning and cooking. Fat is a part of a good slice of brisket – get used to it.
6 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus ½ teaspoon
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 325 F
Trim brisket a bit, but you need to leave a good amount of fat to protect the meat while cooking.
Season the brisket with 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pepper and place in a large Dutch oven. Add stock to just cover the brisket.
Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven to cook until fork-tender – 4 to 4 ½ hours.
Meanwhile – in a small bowl mix the brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and cloves.
When the meat is fork tender, remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
Discard the braising liquid, except a few tablespoons which you can use to slightly loosen the sugar mixture. Note: you want this to be a paste, not too liquid.
Spoon the sugar paste onto both sides of the brisket using the back of a spoon to coat the meat.
When oven has been at 400 F for 5 minutes, return the brisket to the oven, uncovered, and roast for ten minutes – a candied crust will form on the outside.
Remove brisket from oven – season with remaining ½ teaspoon salt, or a few good pinches of Maldon sea salt flakes – and rest for10 minutes before slicing across the grain into ¼-inch thick slices.
Serve with sturdy salad and mock frîtes (recipe below)
(this recipe is easy and very, very good – I think I got this from Gretchen McKay)
If you cook these to accompany the brisket (above), you will need to begin them during the last half hour of cooking the brisket and then finish them with a quick broil while the brisket rests.
You just need small potatoes (not those pebble-sized things, but something like the size of new potatoes), water, olive oil and salt.
Earlier in the day, boil the potatoes until a fork goes through them easily. Drain and dry.
Oil a sheet pan with olive oil and roll potatoes around on pan to coat with the oil. Now use the bottom of a pan or a potato masher and press firmly until potatoes burst and flatten.
Salt potatoes and then cook in oven for 25 minutes until golden and crunchy. Salt again when they come out of the oven. (Maldon salt is perfect here – but kosher salt will do.)