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Italian Braised Brisket is super tender and delicious beef, served with caramelized vegetables and pasta.We’ve heard from many readers that you are a little intimidated when it comes to cooking brisket. We totally understand – beef brisket can be tough and dry unless it’s cooked properly. Today’s Italian Braised Brisket recipe is one that anyone can make successfully, and you’re sure to love the results!
What is brisket?Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of cattle. It is flat muscle meat and supports a significant amount of the animal’s body weight, so it has a lot of connective tissue throughout. That connective tissue can make this cut of beef very tough, unless it’s cooked for a long time. Lots of chefs and home cooks will prepare brisket in a smoker – which cooks the beef low and slow for hours and hours – and it results in delicious, tender, smoky-flavored meat. But most of us don’t have a smoker at home – so we set out to make a brisket recipe that anyone could prepare without any special appliances. We also wanted a different flavor profile for today’s brisket recipe – so we settled on an Italian-inspired beef brisket.
How do you make Italian Braised Brisket?First off, I do want to note that this recipe does take some time to prepare – but it’s mostly hands-off time. The day before serving, you’ll marinate the brisket overnight in a red wine and vinegar brine. The brine has all sorts of herbs and seasonings that will penetrate into the beef as it marinates. The next day, rinse the marinade off the beef and slather it with tomato paste. Lay fresh parsley over the top – then place the brisket in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Add braising liquid made from beef broth and canned whole tomatoes. Cover – then let the oven do the work – roasting the brisket for about four to five hours. (Your kitchen is going to smell AMAZING!) Toward the end of the brisket’s cooking time, sauté some pepper and onions, and boil some rigatoni or other hearty pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about three cups of the pasta cooking liquid. Once the brisket is fall apart tender, remove from the Dutch oven and let it rest on a cutting board. Add the pasta water to the Dutch oven and use it to deglaze the pan – and create a wonderful sauce that gets served over the sliced brisket.
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5–6 pound brisket (we started with 5 ½ pounds and trimmed off ½ pound of fat)
½ cup Merlot or Burgundy or other strong red wine
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 cups water
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh garlic
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dry mint
1 tablespoon dry tarragon
2 tablespoons dry basil
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can beef broth
4 tablespoons tomato paste
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 pound dry Rigatoni or your favorite pasta
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced into thick half slices
4 assorted Bell peppers cut into thick strips (red, green, orange and yellow)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Trim most of the fat from the brisket, leaving some still attached. Some briskets already come trimmed.
In a sauce pan, place wine, vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, salt, mint, tarragon, basil, oregano and black pepper and bring to a boil. Lower to a fast simmer and cook for five minutes.
Cool by pouring into a smaller bowl or measuring cup that sits in a larger bowl or measuring cup of ice water. Cool to room temperature.
Place the beef in a casserole dish or two-gallon zip bag and pour over the cooled marinade, including the sediment that collected on the bottom.
Refrigerate overnight or for at least six hours.
Five hours before serving preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the beef and discard all of the marinade. Then rinse any remaining marinade off of the beef.
Pour the can of whole tomatoes and beef broth into a Dutch oven large enough to accommodate the meat.
Rub the beef all over with the four tablespoons of tomato paste and lay the meat over the whole tomatoes and beef broth. Top with the parsley, cover and roast for 4 hours.
While beef is roasting cook pasta to just short of done and before draining, save three cups of the pasta water. Set reserved pasta water aside and cool the pasta under cold water and set that aside.
In a large skillet over medium low to low heat, saute onions and peppers in the olive oil with the salt and pepper covered for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool until later in this recipe.
After four hours, test the beef by slicing a small sliver against the grain from one end and test. If still tough, lower oven to 325 degrees F and continue to cook covered for up to one more hour. Ours took four hours and 45 minutes before I was satisfied with the texture. Check liquid at the four hours mark and if too much has evaporated, add a cup or two of water before cooking further.
Remove the beef to a cutting board and loosely cover with foil and let rest ten minutes. Discard parsley.
Pour the three cups of pasta water into the Dutch oven with the contents and cook over medium heat, scraping up the bottom. If there are burned splatters on the sides, leave them be.
Reheat the pasta in hot water, drain and add all but one cup of the sauce to the pasta. Also reheat peppers and onions and add most of that mixture also to the pasta. To make the mixture a little looser, add a little hot water as needed.
To serve, slice thick slices of the beef against the grain and serve with the coated pasta along with the remaining sauce and pepper and onion mixture.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
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