I know, I know, there are a lot of brisket recipes floating around out there. I’ve written about several of them.
But brisket is one of those workhorse dishes that can serve as a homey meal for the family, deliver a festive holiday main course, anchor a buffet or provide a deliciously casual dinner party dish. I had a brisket in my freezer and decided to pull it out for dinner last week.
Given the difficulties of provisioning, I did not have my normally well-stocked pantry at my disposal, so I had to improvise. The half a can of tomato paste came in mighty handy, as it formed a flavorful seal atop the meat to keep the spice blend in place. Beer was a great braising liquid and used up a bottle of dark Guinness that no one in my house was ever going to drink.
The roasted root veggies and clementine-dill green salad were perfect accompaniments, but just about any vegetable, salad or starch would work with this brisket. The only thing I would avoid would be overly sauced or tomato-based dishes, which could compete or clash with the star of the show.
The salad was colorful, fresh and tasty and can be adapted to what you have available.
The coconut bars were a bit of revelation. They are easy, supremely versatile, tasty, pareve and gluten-free. My coconut-obsessed daughter made them, and we cut them into bars for dessert and snacking, but there’s a lot of potential and versatility beyond the square. They are great on their own, but could be dressed up with a drizzle of melted chocolate, a sprinkle of cinnamon, cardamom or some chopped nuts.
I would also consider making them in a pie pan, topping them with fresh fruit, sliced or pureed mango or lemon curd and slicing them into wedges for a fancier, plated dessert.
- 1 3-pound brisket
- ½ teaspoon each: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and paprika
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 cup beer
Heat your oven to 300 degrees.
Mix the spices on a plate, and dredge the brisket in the mixture to coat.
Place the onion, carrot and celery in a baking dish. Put the brisket on top of the mixed vegetables.
Spread the tomato paste on the brisket to coat the top — kind of like icing a cake.
Pour the beer around the brisket, cover and cook for about 3-4 hours until the brisket is fork-tender and almost falling apart.
Remove it from the oven, let it sit for 5 minutes, and carve the meat on the diagonal against the grain. Serve with the braising liquid.
Green Salad with Clementines and Dill
This was another “what do I have, so what shall I make” concoctions. The red leaf lettuce married nicely with the clementines and dill, and the salad made for an attractive, colorful presentation. Any type of lettuce works here; just use what you have on hand. Ditto the fruit or herbs.
No clementines? How about grapefruit or apples? No dill? Try parsley, mint or cilantro.
For the salad:
- 1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed, spun and torn into small pieces
- 2 clementines, peeled and sectioned
- ¼ cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
For the dressing:
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix the dressing ingredients in a measuring cup or cruet; drizzle over the salad.
Toss and serve immediately.
Makes about 16 bars, or 1 pie
Be sure to use unrefined virgin coconut oil here, which delivers a strong burst of coconut flavor.
The refined version, which is generally cheaper, does not have any taste. If you don’t have agave, you can use maple syrup, honey or make simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water and melting them together.
Note: These were significantly better the second day after they had time to chill and completely solidify.
- 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup virgin, unrefined coconut oil, melted
- ⅓ cup agave syrup
Line a square pan with parchment.
In a large bowl, mix coconut, melted oil and agave. This should resemble a thick batter; if it is dry, add a bit more agave, some coconut milk or water.
Pour the batter into the parchment-lined pan and, with wet hands, press firmly into the pan.
Refrigerate until completely firm; cut and serve as desired.