If you know me, you know I eat meat, but never cow….except sometimes at Hanukkah. The only hard and fast “food rules” - if we have to put a label on it - are no dairy, gluten, and corn and that’s only because I’m allergic and//or highly sensitive to them. I’ll literally go to the hospital if I have dairy and gluten and corn will mess up my week. Aside from that, food rules really aren’t a thing // are meant to be broken.
That said, I have a severe mental block about cow. I eat lamb, bison, venison, goat even, but there’s something about bovine that I have trouble with. All I can think is that I was either Hindu in a past life, or the Food Inc book I read back in middle school really left a mark. I’m just disgusted by it. A lot of it isn’t really rational. I will gladly choose a 3-step free range chicken over a 4-step grass-fed pastured cow…it’s silly really, but we are who we are, right?
All things change when the holidays and traditions come along. Because of my food allergies there are already so many things that I can’t eat. When there is a homey, cozy, dish that reminds me of my passover holiday growing up — you can bet that I want in on it. Truth be told, now that I’m reflecting on it the meal I’m remembering with brisket so fondly is passover dinner with my moms family in Pennsylvania…whooooops. I know my mom used to make brisket at home in California for Hanukkah, though hers was made in a plastic bag. Cringing just thinking about it (Mommy I know we didn’t know better….but never again!).
Point of this story? Once or twice a year (Hanukkah // Passover) I eat cow…but you know it was sourced locally and lived a very happy life.
So with that, let’s get cookin’ cow, shall we?!
Ingredients // Pantry items:
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoons paprika (not smoked)
1 tablespoon fresh sage cut in slivers
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon high quality salt
3-5 pounds of beef brisket (I used 3)
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 medium onions sliced (sub 1 leek — greens only — roughly chopped if Low FODMAP)
4 carrots cut into large 2-3 inch pieces
2 fennel bulbs cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
2 cups beef stock or bone broth
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup tomato puree
4 garlic cloves peeled - optional - I didn’t use to take it easy on my tummy
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
In a small bowl, whisk the thyme with the paprika, sage, ground pepper and sea salt.
Rub the spice mixture all over the brisket and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 300°. In a large, oven-safe roasting pan (I used a le creuset braiser), heat 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. Add the brisket to the roasting pan and cook over medium-high heat, turning once (and also using tongs to get sides), until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a large plate.
Add the onions // leeks (if using), and a generous pinch of salt to the roasting pan or braiser (omit onions if #lowfodmap). Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and well browned, about 10ish minutes. Add the broth, vinegar, tomato puree, fresh sage, peppercorns and bay leaf and bring to a simmer - if you’re using garlic, add it now. Simmer for approx. 5 minutes.
Place the brisket in the roasting pan with brothy sprices and nestle the fennel and carrots in the liquid around it.
Tent the brisket with foil and bake for about 4 hours, until very tender. Transfer the brisket to a carving board, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.
Skim the fat off the braising liquid and discard the bay leaf. Carve the brisket and transfer to a platter. Serve with the pan juices and vegetables.
*For a relaxing dinner party, I suggest cooking the brisket the day before, refrigerating in the braising liquid overnight and reheating right before serving.
Serve with my Healthy Purple Sweet Potato Latkes, a fresh salad, and maybe some roasted broccoli. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!!
Happy Hanukkah! XO
P.S. I’m not a fennel lover and LOVE fennel in this recipe. Adds so much flavor to the dish, while the fennel bulbs themselves are bearable, and in fact enjoyable to eat, because the flavor has been tamed with the vinegar // tomato sauce. Thank me later.