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Braised Beef Brisket with Onions
The Washington Post Wine Club Braised Beef Brisket with Onions

Braised Beef Brisket with Onions

Make Ahead
Chef David Scribner has updated and streamlined the brisket recipe he used to make at Felix in the late 1990s. In this version, he uses whole (peeled) cipollini onions, which are flat and hold their shape well.
Wine Pairing
Wine Pairing
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 to 7 pounds beef brisket, preferably second cut, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Granulated garlic powder
2 pounds peeled cipollini onions (may substitute peeled pearl onions)
4 to 6 whole cloves garlic
6 cups water, plus more as needed
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons flour (optional)
Heat enough of the oil to coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. (A large, heavy roasting pan can be used instead; it will need to be tightly covered with aluminum foil during cooking.)

Season the meat on both sides with equal parts salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Add to the Dutch oven and sear (uncovered) on both sides; this will take about 12 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a platter.

Add the onions to the Dutch oven. Brown them for 8 to 10 minutes, turning them as needed. Add the garlic cloves to taste and cook for a few minutes, just until they pick up some color.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Return the meat to the Dutch oven, fat side up. Add the water, tomato paste and bay leaf, stirring until the paste is incorporated. Add water as needed to make sure the brisket is just covered. Bring to a boil over medium-heat, then remove from the heat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, then place the lid on the Dutch oven.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, checking the tenderness of the meat after 3 hours. When the meat is done, it should be mahogany-colored and easily pierced with a fork. Uncover; transfer the meat and onions to a platter to rest while you make the (optional) gravy. Discard the bay leaf.

If the liquid in the Dutch oven seems too thin to use as a sauce, place the Dutch oven (uncovered) over medium heat. Add some or all of the flour, depending on how much sauce there is, whisking until well combined and the sauce has reached the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

To serve, cut the brisket crosswise into thin slices. Place the onions on top, then spoon the sauce on and around the meat. Serve hot.

NOTE: To remove the fat from the sauce, strain the cooking liquid into a fat-separator cup. Let the juices settle for 5 minutes, then pour the liquid back into the Dutch oven, leaving the fat in the cup.

MAKE AHEAD: The brisket can be made a few days in advance. Its flavors tend to deepen with a few days' refrigeration, and the meat is easier to slice when it's cold (especially with an electric carving knife).

From David Scribner, chef at Surfside restaurant in Glover Park.
Tested by David Scribner for The Washington Post.

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