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Monday, February 27, 2012

15-Hour Red Wine Brisket

Beef en Filo with Onion-Leek Marmalade and Chive Garnish.
Sometimes, one cooks with almost no time. In a restaurant, for example, the goal is to reduce any given item to about 10 or 15 minutes total of preparation from "hey, we need a ______" to it going out to the diner. This means that some things are partly finished in advance, destined for a sort of reheating (for example, pasta is often cooked just short of al dente, then re-boiled to finish cooking at service.) Other times, you have a couple hours, like cooking a family dinner. Finally, one can periodically cook with all the time in the world—that is the sort of situation that spawned this dish.

This began rather harmlessly as a variant on the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs that I've made before; in this case, I didn't marinate the beef, nor did I include a lot of aromatic herbs with the braising liquid. Instead, I opted for a somewhat simple, rather old-fashioned approach. I simply placed all the ingredients in a large pan, covered it, and braised it in the oven until it was tender.

In the beginning, I'd planned on maybe 8-10 hours of cooking time—I put the beef in the oven at about 11 AM, and thought "Okay, by 9 PM I'll be able to take it out and cool it overnight, and finish working with it tomorrow."

Then, however, fate intervened—and this time, in a good way. I was contacted by one of my culinary friends to help him with a catering event, so I headed out and passed the 8 hour mark while setting up a little buffet line. I returned home, tweaked my oven settings a bit, and headed back out to drop items off at the bookstore, since this dish formed part of the prep for my most recent steamfeast. I then ventured further away from home to attend a birthday celebration for a friend, and while there directed that the oven be turned down further and left to cook until I returned home...

...which didn't happen until about 4:30 AM.

Thus, this brisket cooked for a little over 15 hours. Without further introduction, then, I present my recipe for:

15-Hour Red Wine Brisket.
13.5 lbs (6 kg) brisket
1.5 L red wine
1 pt (474 ml) beef stock
1 onion, rough chop
1/2 lb (226 g) carrots, rough chop
1/2 lb (226 g) celery, rough chop
4 cloves garlic

1. Season the brisket with paprika, salt, and pepper. Place the brisket into a large roasting pan (preferably one with a cover. I used a turkey roaster.) Trim if necessary to ensure fit.

2. Place onion, carrot, celery, and garlic around brisket. Add thyme and sage to the pan, covering the brisket and vegetables.

3. Add red wine and beef stock, cover, and place in a 325°F/170°C/Gas Mark 3 preheated oven. After 2-3 hours, reduce heat to 250°F/130°C/Gas Mark 1/2. After 5-6 hours, reduce further to 200°F/95°C.

4. After 15 hours, remove from the oven, and remove brisket from cooking liquid. Place in a container and cool. Strain cooking liquid into another container, and save.

After cooling both the brisket and liquid overnight, I pulled the brisket; with the liquid, I skimmed off about 2 oz of the fat, and made a roux of about 4 oz total. To this, I added 1 quart of the strained liquid, and cooked it until thickened. I seasoned it slightly with salt, and then used it to moisten the pulled beef when reheating for service.
Delicious. Simply. Delicious.

I served these in a phyllo dough cup, which I made quite simply by placing two squares of #10 phyllo dough (slightly on the thicker side of the phyllo range) in muffin cups, brushed with butter. I baked them for a scant 2-3 minutes, just enough to get the to color slightly and stiffen up without browning overmuch or burning. I topped these beef cups with an onion-leek-garlic mixture, and some fresh chives for garnish.

The plates came back clean.


  1. Very interesting Aaron!

    My go-to recipe for brisket calls for searing it beforehand, and I noticed you didn't do that. Since you were shredding it, I suppose it doesn't matter as much, but do you prefer one way over the other?

    Also, were the veggies mush by the end of the long cooking time? Did you simply discard them, or use them somehow? If you had it to do over again, would you use fewer, since you wouldn't be serving them?

    1. Generally, when I braise smaller items (short ribs, legs of lamb, shanks for osso bucco) I do sear them; in the case of this brisket, the full cut of brisket would have required a pan of about 3 feet long and 2 feet wide, which I just don't have, to sear it in any way—short of torching it with a blowtorch, which I also don't have.

      Searing before braising can add some additional layers of flavor, but at 15 hours I feel that the subtlety might be gone. Certainly it does help to create a nicer-looking surface on smaller items, and does definitely add some flavor. In the case of the brisket, however, even when I have a smaller, more manageable cut, I generally don't sear it. Habit more than anything else, I think.

      The veggies were mushy, but not completely dead. Given the size of the brisket, I didn't use a very large (comparatively) amount of veggies, so I definitely wouldn't reduce the amount. I think they added the right flavors. I did end up straining them out and discarding them, much like I do for vegetables used to make stock.

    2. Ah...that makes total sense. Thank you!

  2. Fabulous. Simply. Fabulous. Will make!


Your opinions and comments always are welcomed, but do be civil... this isn't a kitchen, after all.