For the long weekend, we had this beef brisket, which I slow-roasted like a pot roast
Last week was a big holiday week for us in Kuala Lumpur. The end of Hari Raya, or Ramadan, is, from what I can tell, the family gathering equivalent of our Thanksgiving (except, of course, that Ramadan is also a religious holiday). Practically speaking, it also means that the markets and grocery stores are packed with people in the days leading up to the Hari Raya holiday as people stock up on ingredients for massive cooking and feasting.
I, too, joined the throngs of housewives in frenzied buying, since the hubby and I planned for a relaxing "staycation" this year and wanted to minimize having to leave the house. Over the last few weeks, we'd amassed a stockpile of movies and a new card game. I was also really looking forward to reorganizing my spices (no, that's not a joke). The problem is, just like Thanksgiving, waiting until the afternoon before Hari Raya to do the bulk of your grocery shopping is a fool's game. You have to take whatever happens to be left on the shelves, which isn't much.
The finished brisket-turned-pot-roast, straight out of the oven and into a serving dish
What happened to be leftover, in my case, was a selection of beef brisket, which I've never cooked before, but I absolutely loved to eat when I used to live in Texas. In Texas, brisket is just about the best thing ever. Barbecued, it wears a smoky flavor beautifully, and at most legitimate smokehouses you can order it "lean," "moist" or "extra moist," depending on how marbled with fat you want your piece to be.
Here in KL, though, we don't have outdoor space, and hence, no grill or smoker to accomplish what Texans can master with their brisket. Even if we had a grill, it's also hot as blazes most days here, and given my current physical condition, I briefly imagined the hubby having a virtual heart attack at the idea of me standing outside, fanning a smoker for 6 hours. (The poor man practically rockets out of bed every time I twitch these days.)
After reading up a bit on the virtues of brisket, I realized that Jewish grandmothers everywhere do lots of things with brisket that Texans would never dream of, and so I decided to approach my 3-pound slab the way a Bubbe might: braised in the oven, pot-roast style. The end result of 6 hours of braising was a fork-tender brisket accompanied by a bunch of tender vegetables that soaked in the brisket juices. It was a delicious, hearty fall meal; we just turned up the air-conditioning inside to make it seem cooler than the 90 degrees it was outside. (Hooray, environment!)
Beef Brisket "Pot Roast"
1 3-4 pound beef brisket, fat trimmed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch chunks
2 onions, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 can whole plum tomatoes, crushed with the back of a wooden spoon
1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon flour
8 red potatoes or other small white potatoes, peeled and halved
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together a pinch of salt, garlic, thyme and rosemary in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.
Add remaining oil to a Dutch oven or other oven-safe deep pan (like a roasting pan) and heat over medium-high heat. Season brisket on both sides with salt and pepper, and sear all sides in pan until browned. Add rosemary, thyme and garlic oil and spread on top of brisket with a wooden spoon. Surround meat with carrots, celery and onion, then add red wine and tomatoes. Top with parsley and bay leaves and cover Dutch oven with lid or pan with foil. Roast in oven for 5-6 hours, basting every 30 minutes or so. 1 hour before the end of cooking, add potatoes to Dutch oven.
When brisket flakes and is fork tender, remove the Dutch oven. Place brisket on a cutting board, let rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice it against the grain. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and place on serving dish. Return the Dutch oven to the stove, and, over medium heat, add a tablespoon of flour to thicken the roasting juices. Place brisket on top of serving dish with vegetables and top with sauce.