Brisket with Spanish paprika, sherry, and olives

April 16, 2008

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Serves 8

1 flat-cut beef brisket (4 to 5 pounds)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
1 can (about 14 ounces) whole tomatoes
2 cups aged sherry
1 cup white wine
2 cups beef or chicken stock
2 cups pitted green olives
1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs parsley, and 2 sprigs fresh thyme wrapped in cheesecloth

1. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Season the brisket generously with salt and pepper.

2. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the olive and vegetable oils over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and brown it for 10 minutes, turning to cook both sides. Set the brisket on a large plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot.

3. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 6 minutes. Stir in the paprika. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sherry and wine, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half.

4. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Return the brisket to the pan with the olives and bay leaf bundle. Cover with the lid, leaving it open a small crack to allow steam to escape. Transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork. (The brisket is best made 1 to 2 days ahead. Let it sit at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.)

5. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Skim off most of the fat from the braising liquid. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and slice it across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

6. Discard the herb bundle. Pass the sauce through a food mill or work it in batches in a food processor to create a thick, slightly chunky sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Place the sliced brisket in a baking dish large enough to hold it. Spoon some of the sauce on top. Loosely cover with foil and heat for 20 minutes or until hot. In a saucepan, reheat the remaining sauce and transfer to a gravy boat. - Adapted from Craigie Street Bistrot