Whether you call the final dish pot roast, potted meat, gedempta fleysh, or braised brisket, this dish will taste the same. It uses the leaner top half of a whole brisket, known as a top cut or flat cut.
When you buy the meat, have the butcher remove the hard fat and skin but leave the rest of the fat. I’ll explain below.
A 3 and 3/4 to 5 pound brisket
1 to 1 and 1/2 25-ounce bottles of Concord grape wine (I use Manischewitz, but Mogen David works well too.)
Ground black pepper
2 large yellow onions
5 cloves of garlic, whole
A few stalks of celery
This dish is best prepared one day before serving.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Pour half of the wine into a thick-bottomed roasting pan (they make the world go round).
Rinse and pat the brisket dry. Aggressively season the meat with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle a few dashes of sugar on each side of the meat. Place brisket into roasting pan.
Peel onions. Put whole peeled onions in the pan. Peel garlic. Remember, use individual cloves, not five whole heads. Use your heads. I shouldn’t have to be so specific. Peel the carrots and clean celery stalks. Put them into the pan. A bissel sechel.
Now cover the meat with the wine — the more the merrier. Cover the roasting pan and pop it into a heated oven. After 30 minutes, lower the temperature to 300 degrees F.
As opposed to all my previous recipes, you need not watch. In fact, do not look. Leave the oven closed. Take a hike. Give a look at the TV. In just under three hours, carefully remove the roasting pan. Leave it covered — no peeking — but leave the oven on warm just in case it has to go back in.
After 10 to 15 minutes, carefully remove the lid. With a big fork, test for doneness. “Stick a fork in it,” as the saying goes. If the fork comes out without too much resistance, it’s done. If it’s not done, cover and put it back into the oven. Raise the heat back to 300 degrees F and give it another half-hour. Then repeat the removal process.
Once the meat is done, remove to a serving platter and cover it; this avoids shrinkage (ah, memories of Seinfeld). Remove onions and garlic and discard. Remove and save carrots and celery.
Pour the wondrous gravy into several containers to cool and be refrigerated overnight. Then skim off the fat from the sauce.
After the meat has rested at least 30 minutes, slice with an electric knife. Cool and refrigerate sliced meat.
An alternate plan is to pour off the gravy into a “gravy separator.” This device allows for gravy and soups to be served while the fat stays on top. It’s great for serving the same day as cooked, and for pouring gravy over sliced meat so it stays moist in the fridge.
The perfect side dishes are mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, kasha (buckwheat), or potato pancakes. Watch for potato pancake recipes over the next few weeks. Lotsa latkes.
Crack open a beajolais nouveau (they will be on the shelves in a week or so) and have some beautiful, fresh, soft-golden chalah on hand for sopping up sauce. Also for sandwiches.
Post-script: By the way, I keep waiting for invitations. Let me see if I am as good a cooking teacher as I used to be. Remember, I’m single and I cook too. Such a catch.