(by Barbara Ballinger)
5 - 6 lb. first-cut beef brisket, trimmed so a thin layer of fat remains in some spots
1 1/2 T. kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
2 T. all-purpose flour (or matzo meal for Passover)
3 T. vegetable oil
8 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced 1/2-in. thick
3 T. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
6 carrots, peeled and sliced into large chunks on a diagonal
handful fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Set an oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350 F.
Season brisket on both sides with salt and pepper.
Lightly dust with flour, then shake and turn to coat evenly.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy flameproof roasting pan or ovenproof
enameled cast-iron pot just large enough to hold the brisket and carrots snugly.
Sear brisket on both sides until crusty brown areas appear on the surface, 5 - 7 minutes per side.
Transfer to a platter.
Add onions to pot and cook until softened and golden, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, about 15 minutes.
(If browned bits start to burn, add a few tablespoons of water, and scrape with a wooden spoon to release them.)
Remove from heat, and place brisket, fatty side up, and any accumulated juices on top of onions.
Spread tomato paste evenly over brisket, then scatter garlic and carrots around edges of the pot.
Cover very tightly with a lid or aluminum foil (preferably heavy-duty or two layers.
Transfer to oven, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
On a cutting board, with an electric or very sharp knife, slice meat across the grain,
approximately 1/8 - 1/4-in. thick.
Return slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle. (It should resemble the original unsliced brisket.)
Cover the pot tightly and return to the oven.
Lower the heat to 325 F. and cook until brisket is fork-tender, 1 3/4 – 2 1/2 hours, or longer if necessary.
The brisket is ready to serve with its juices, but it is even better the second day.
(Note: If the sauce seems greasy, transfer the meat and vegetables to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce into a bowl, and let sit until the fat rises to the top. Using a small ladle, spoon out the fat. Pour the skimmed gravy back over the meat.)
Note: The brisket can be made up to 3 days ahead of serving and refrigerated. Reheat at 300 F. until hot, about 45 minutes.
The brisket also freezes well for up to 2 months; defrost in the refrigerator 2 days ahead of serving.
(Read My Baby's Having A Baby, the story that accompanies this recipe.)