by Richard Ruben
from The Farmer’s Market Cookbook
(Lyons Press, 2000)
Serves 6 to 8
In a way, this recipe pays homage to my mother and her holiday braise. In another, it says I have wandered far from my Eastern European roots. Sure, the black radishes, parsnips and mushrooms hearken back to my younger days. But the use of the chipotle chili and quince offer a hybridization of flavor. The chipotle is a dried, smoked jalapeño that is incendiary. It is available dried or in cans slathered in a tomato sauce (adobo sauce). Whichever one you find will work in this recipe.—Richard Ruben
3 1/2 pound brisket of beef, trimmed well of excess fat and sinew
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1/4 pound black radishes, peeled and julienned (see Note)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 celery ribs, diced 1/4 inch
2 small parsnips, diced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 pound mushrooms, stems discarded and quartered
2 chipotles, left whole
3/4 cup seltzer water
5 plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and quartered
1/2 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Heat a 9-quart casserole pot or Dutch oven, wide enough to fit the brisket laying down flat, over a medium-high heat. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Place the fattier side of the brisket down in the pan and sear to deep brown. No oil is needed, since the fat on the brisket should be sufficient. However, if you cut away the entire fat cap, add about 1/8 cup olive oil to the pan first. Flip the brisket over and sear the other side. Brisket will take about 4 to 5 minutes per side to sear. Remove the brisket to a platter. Then add the onions, radishes, and garlic to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then return the brisket to the pan on top of the onion mixture. Add the celery, parsnips, quince, mushrooms, chipotles, and seltzer.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil. Place the brisket in the oven and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour flip the brisket over and add the quartered tomatoes. Re-cover and place back in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer.
3. Remove the brisket from the pan to a platter and hold. Don’t slice the brisket for at least 30 minutes after removing it from the oven. This will allow the juices to relax back into the meat. In the meantime, return the casserole pot to the stove top and add the Italian parsley to the braising juices and vegetables and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Reduce the liquid to concentrate the flavors. If you desire, remove the chipotles and discard. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice the brisket against the grain of the meat and place on a platter. Spoon the reduced juices and vegetables on top. Serve immediately.
Note: The black radish used in this recipe is also known as a winter radish. It has a black skin and mild-tasting white flesh. I like to slice it very thinly and drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to serve as an appetizer. I grew up eating it–grated and tossed with warm rendered chicken fat, which then garnished a smear of chopped liver.
Recipe © 2000 Richard Rubin. All rights reserved.