You could smell the brisket all over the house, it had so much garlic in it.
A roast like that, with a fresh warm twist, is a delicacy from heaven.
SHOLEM ALEICHEM, "TIT FOR TAT"
In my take on the French classic, chicken with forty cloves of garlic becomes brisket with thirty-six cloves. All that feisty garlic turns sweet and mellow with gentle braising; when pureed, it forms a seductive gravy, which is finished with a zing of chopped raw garlic and lemon zest.
Why thirty-six cloves? Beginning with aleph, which equals one, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet stands for a number, and so every word has a numerical value. All multiples of eighteen, the numerical value of the Hebrew word chai, life, are considered especially auspicious, which is why donations to charity and wedding and bar mitzvah gifts are often given in multiples of eighteen.
|36 fat garlic cloves or an equivalent amount of smaller cloves, plus 1 teaspoon minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
A f rst-cut beef brisket (about 5 pounds),trimed of excess fat, wiped with a damp papertowel, and patted dry
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cups beef or chicken broth, preferably home-made (page 63 or 78), or good-quality low -sodium canned
|3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
Salt andfreshly ground b1ack pepper 1 teaspoon grated lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Drop the garlic cloves into boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain immediately. Peel as soon as the garlic is cool enough to handle. Set aside on paper towels to dry.
3. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or casserole large enough to accommodate the meat in one layer. Use two burners, if necessary. Add the brisket and brown well on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a platter and set aside.
4. Pour off all but about I tablespoon of fat remaining in the pan and add tbe garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic edges are tinged with gold. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, thyme, and rosemary sprigs and reduce the heat to a simmer. Salt and pepper the brisket to taste on all sides, and add it to the pan, fat side up. Spoon the garlic cloves over the meat.
5. Place the brisket in the oven, cover (if you have no lid, use heavy-duty foil), and cook, basting every half-hour, until the meat is fork-tender,21/2 - 3 hours or longer. (As the meat cooks, periodically check that the liquids are bubbling gently. If they are boiling rapidly, turn the oven down to 300°F.)
6. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and tent it loosely with foil. ~
7. Prepare the gravy. Strain the braising mixture, reserving the garlic and discarding the thyme and rosemary sprigs Skim and discard as much fat as possible from the liquid. Puree about one-half of the cooked garlic and I cup of the defatted braising liquid in a food processor or a blender. Transfer the pureed mixture, the remaining braising liquid, and the rest of the cooked garlic to a skillet. Add the reserved chopped rosemary and minced garlic and the lemon zest. Boil down the gravy over high heat, uncovered, to the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (If you want a smooth gravy, puree all of the cooked garlic cloves.)
8. Cut the brisket into thin slices across the grain at a slight diagonal. Arrange the sliced brisket on a serving platter. Spoon some of the hot gravy all over the meat and pass the rest in a separate sauce boat.
YIELD: 8 generous servings