Makes 12 servings
“Cooked long enough, this brisket will melt in your mouth,” promises Eric Eisenberg, who developed this recipe to serve at Swedish Medical Center. “Patiently roast this brisket for 3 ½ hours.” Eisenberg recommends cooking the meat with half the fruits the day before you plan to serve it and chilling it overnight.
5 pounds beef (top flat) trimmed
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
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¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup zinfandel or other red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 small head garlic, cut in half
½ bunch of fresh thyme
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
10 ounces (about 2 cups packed) dried apricots, divided
10 ounces (about 2 cups packed) dried pitted prunes, divided
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With the tip of a sharp knife, score the fatty side of the brisket, creating a pattern of diamond shapes about a half inch across. Combine the cocoa, flour and salt, then dredge the brisket in the seasoned flour.
2. Put a roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat with 3 tablespoons of the oil and sear the brisket, fatty side down, until it is well browned, about 7 minutes. Turn the brisket over and brown the other side.
3. Lift the beef out of the pan, pour in the zinfandel and scrape up any bits that have caramelized to the bottom. Stir in the beef broth, the herbs and spices and half of the apricots and prunes. (Save half the dried fruits for later.) Nestle the brisket back into the roasting pan among the fruits. Lightly oil the parchment with the remaining canola and lay it, oiled side down, over the brisket, tucking the edges of the parchment into the pan.
4. Bake until the point of a knife enters easily into the meat, about 3 ½ hours. Lift the roast out of the pan and strain the braising liquor through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup or a small mixing bowl and chill it. The brisket should be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for a day before serving. Discard any fat that rises to the surface of the chilled braising liquid.
5. The next day, cut the cold meat across the grain into ¼-inch slices and lay the slices in a shingled fashion in a baking dish. Place the remaining dried fruits and the defatted sauce into a saucepan and heat gently over low heat, stirring occasionally.
6. Once the sauce is heated and the fruit has plumped, spoon the fruit and about half of the liquid over the meat. Cover the meat and fruit with parchment once again and heat in a 275-degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot with the extra braising liquid warmed and passed separately.