Nothing triggers holiday memories like big, bold smells that fill the house. If you want your friends and family to salivate well before dinner try this classic Christmas Eve Braised Beef Brisket. It’s not tricky to make and the cooking time far out paces the prep time. It keeps well in a warm oven so you can make it early in the day (it will simply fill the house with great Christmas scents for additional hours).
The most important thing is to be a wise shopper. Hopefully you have a good relationship with your butcher who can steer you toward the best brisket for the job.
Ingredients for Christmas Eve Braised Beef Brisket
- 4 to 6-pound flat-cut brisket
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon smoked Hungarian paprika
- 1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1 tablespoon rough chopped ginger root
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 bay leaves
First, soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 325° F. Brown the brisket well on both sides ideally in the pan/baking dish you will braise the beef. Once the brisket is browned remove it to a platter. Turn down the heat and slowly sweat the onions and garlic. Next, turn the heat back up and add the tomato paste followed by the herbs and spices. Cook for two minutes until it is quite fragrant. Add the ginger, mushrooms, dried cherries, wine, stock, and bay leaves. Bring it to a boil – switch off the flame and return the brisket to the pan flipping it to coat both sides with the flavorful liquid. Cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the pre-heated oven. Bake for 90 minutes – remove the foil and turn the brisket. Bake for an additional 90 minutes or until the brisket is very tender. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Place the brisket on a warm platter and cover with foil. You have several options with the sauce. You can simply reduce the braising liquid or you can blend and then strain the liquid and then slightly reduce the rich sauce if needed. ( I like the blender method.) By now your home smells like a Christmas festival.
Serve alongside braised cabbage and boiled or mashed potatoes. For beverages you simply cannot beat a mature bottle of Amarone wine.