SANDY LOEFFLER’S FAVOURITE BRISKET WITH DRIED FRUIT

Food From Friends, Meat & Poultry

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

3/4 cup quartered dried apricots (divided)
9 large cloves of garlic (divided)
3 1/2 tsp ground cumin (divided)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 1/2 to 5 lbs flat-cut beef brisket

3 Tbsp olive oil

Additional salt and pepper
4 cups chopped onions
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
2/3 cups pitted prunes, quartered (or substitute currants)
Chopped fresh cilantro

Combine 1/2 cup of the dried apricots with 3 cloves garlic, 1 tsp cumin, salt, cinnamon and pepper in a food processor. Using on/off turns, chop to a coarse puree. Using a small knife, cut slits 1/2-inch deep all over the brisket. Set aside 1 Tbsp of the apricot mixture. Press the remaining apricot mixture into slits in brisket.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 300F.

Heat the oil in a heavy, large, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle brisket all over with salt and pepper. Add brisket to pot and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate, fat side up; spread with reserved 1 Tbsp. apricot mixture.

Add chopped onions to the pot and sauté them over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add carrots, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, remaining six garlic cloves (crush them first), and remaining 2 1/2 tsp. cumin; sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and boil until it has reduced and almost becomes a glaze, stirring up any browned bits, about five minutes.

Return brisket to pot. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Spoon some of vegetable mixture over brisket, cover pot and place it in the oven. Roast brisket for 2 1/2 hours, basting every 1/2 hour with pan juices. Add prunes and remaining cut-up dried apricots. Cover again and continue roasting until brisket is tender, about 30 minutes longer.

Remove from oven and cool brisket uncovered for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and when cold, cover and refrigerate it overnight. Remove and discard the hardened fat from top of gravy. Scrape gravy off from brisket; spoon gravy back into pot.

Place brisket on a work surface and slice thinly across the grain. Add sliced brisket to pot with the gravy and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. If desired, boil until gravy is slightly thickened. Season the gravy with salt and pepper.

Arranged brisket slices in a large ovenproof baking dish and spoon gravy over. Cover baking dish with foil. (Can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated.) To heat, place in a 350F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until piping hot.