As a special treat for Passover, I’m delighted to give you a sneak peek of one of my favorite recipes from my new cookbook, Once Upon a Chef, The Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes. Perfect for the Jewish holiday or any special family dinner, this Moroccan-style brisket recipe is a wonderful twist on Nach Waxman’s “most-Googled brisket recipe” that I’ve been making for years. The ingredient list looks long but don’t let that scare you off; it’s really just a lot of spices. Plus, you can make it days ahead of time — in fact, you should because the flavor improves the longer it sits. This dish is so abundant and impressive looking, you can keep the sides simple: some cauliflower purée and a green vegetable and your holiday dinner is done.
Note that butchers typically sell two types of brisket: flat cut and point cut. These two pieces together make up a full brisket, a large slab of muscle from the cow’s chest. The point cut has more marbling, while the flat cut (also called first cut or center cut) is lean but topped with a thick fat cap. This recipe calls for a flat cut brisket. Don’t let your butcher trim all the fat off! A small fat cap bastes the meat, adding flavor and keeping it from getting dry and tough. You can trim any excess fat off of the brisket and skim the fat off the gravy once it’s cooked.
Moroccan-Style Brisket with Dried Fruit & Capers
- One (4- to 6-lb) flat-cut brisket
- 1 heaping Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (okay to substitute matzo cake meal)
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 medium yellow onions, cut into slices 1/2 in thick
- 2 tsp packed light brown sugar
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1-1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 6 carrots, peeled and quartered on the diagonal
- 14 dried apricots
- 12 pitted prunes
- 2 Tbsp capers, drained
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
- Season the brisket on both sides with the salt and pepper. Lightly dust with the flour, turning to coat both sides evenly.
- In a heavy flameproof roasting pan or ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot just large enough to hold the brisket, carrots, and dried fruits snugly, heat the oil over medium‑high heat. Add the brisket to the pan, fatty-side down, and sear until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a pair of tongs and a large fork, flip the brisket over and sear the other side in the same manner.
- Transfer the brisket to a platter, and then add the onions to the pan. (If the pan seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.) Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the onions are softened and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne to the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Add 1 cup water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from the heat and place the brisket, fatty‑side up, and any accumulated juices from the platter on top of the onions. Spread the tomato paste evenly over the brisket, and then scatter the garlic around it. Cover the pan very tightly with heavy‑duty aluminum foil or a lid, transfer to the oven, and cook for 1½ hours.
- Carefully transfer the brisket to a cutting board (leave the oven on). Using an electric or very sharp knife, cut the meat across the grain on a diagonal into thin slices (aim for 1⁄8 to 1/4 in thick). Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. Scatter the carrots, apricots, prunes, and capers around the edges of the pot and baste with the sauce; cover tightly with the foil or lid and return to the oven.
- Lower the heat to 325°F and cook the brisket until it is fork‑tender, 1¾ to 2½ hours. Transfer the brisket to a serving platter, and then sprinkle with parsley. If you’re not planning to serve the brisket right away, let it cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- 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.
- MAKE AHEAD: The brisket can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Reheat the brisket in a 300°F oven until hot, about 45 minutes. Brisket also freezes well for up to 2 months; just be sure to defrost in the refrigerator 2 days ahead of time.