David Barsky, a lawyer from Arlington, Va., won the best-tasting brisket category in the recent brisket and kugel cook-off at Temple Beth El in Alexandria, Va. Mr. Barsky prefers to make the brisket a day or two in advance, to let its flavor develop. His family enjoys it with mashed potatoes on the side.
1 5 to 6-pound beef brisket (first cut,
if possible; see cook's note below)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 to 2 cups beef broth
Cook's note: A first cut of brisket is also known as the flat cut. Its underside usually has a layer of fat that is useful for this cooking process.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Rub brisket on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic. In a large ovenproof pot on medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the meat and sear, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the meat from the pot; set aside.
Reduce the heat to low, add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the wine has reduced, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Place the seared meat on top of the onion, fat side up. Cover evenly with the sugar, then cover with ketchup. Pour broth around the meat until the sides of the brisket are covered but the top is not immersed. Cover tightly first with a layer of aluminum foil, then the pot lid, and cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove meat from the pot and slice thinly on the diagonal. Return sliced meat to the sauce in the pot and turn to evenly coat. Serve hot.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Source: Adapted from the sisterhood cookbook of a Reform temple in Charleston, S.C.
Per serving (based on 12, including sauce): 621 calories, 38 gm protein, 34 gm carbohydrates, 35 gm fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 13 gm saturated fat, 195 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber
Grandma Rubenstein's Brisket
10 to 12 servings
This brisket recipe earned high marks in the competition. Margaret Lorber of Alexandria, Va., identifies its three key elements: the secret-ingredient can of sauce, her mother-in-law's carrot-cutting technique and Lorber's own addition of beer.
About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5-pound brisket, well trimmed
1 to 2 onions, coarsely chopped
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 can Sauce Arturo (only comes in one size)
Two 15-ounce cans beef broth
12-ounce bottle beer (not light; preferably a sweet ale, such as amber)
Coarsely ground black pepper
Several potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
Several carrots, peeled and sliced into 2- to 3-inch sticks
In a large Dutch oven or similar-size pot over medium-high heat, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil. Sear the brisket on all sides and ends until browned. Set meat aside.
Cook the onions in the pan with the meat drippings until translucent; it may be necessary to add up to 2 tablespoons more oil. Reduce heat and add tomato paste and Sauce Arturo (see accompanying box), then put brisket back in pot. Stir in 1 can (2 cups) of stock and about half the beer. The meat should be barely covered with liquid; if it is not, add additional liquid - using equal parts of broth and beer - as necessary. Stir so that everything is well mixed. Add the bay leaf and pepper to taste.
Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Once tender, remove brisket, transfer to a cutting board and cover to keep warm. Add potatoes and carrots to the sauce in the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes.
When the vegetables have finished cooking, carve the brisket. Add the slices to the pot with the vegetables and heat until warmed through. (You may need to take out some of the vegetables and put in separate serving dishes depending on the amount of vegetables you prepare.)
Per serving (based on 12, including sauce and vegetables): 535 calories, 38 gm protein, 10 gm carbohydrates, 36 gm fat, 126 mg cholesterol, 13 gm saturated fat, 170 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber
12 to 16 servings
"Smooth, but not overly sweet" were among the judges' comments on this unanimously favored recipe, from Sandi Rothman of Vienna, Va. She sometimes adds golden raisins.
For the noodles:
8 ounces medium noodles
8 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup apricot nectar
For the topping:
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup cornflakes, crushed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the noodles: Prepare them according to package directions, drain and return to pot. Add cream cheese and butter to hot noodles and stir until the butter melts. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and sugar, then add milk and apricot nectar.
Transfer noodles to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, pour the liquid mixture over the noodles and mix well.
For the topping: In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in cornflake crumbs, sugar and cinnamon until well blended.
Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of noodle casserole. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Per serving (based on 16): 268 calories, 5 gm protein, 27 gm carbohydrates, 16 gm fat, 94 mg cholesterol, 9 gm saturated fat, 87 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber