Todd's Modern-Day Brisket

6 to 8 servings

Lean is the operative word here, which can be a blessing on a laden Passover table. Chef Todd Gray employs professional culinary techniques, pressing the meat as it chills overnight (to compress the meat/extract even more fat) and cutting it into 3-inch blocks for serving. We did the former but couldn't bring ourselves to do the latter; neat, thin slices are also a nice way to go.

Because of Passover restrictions, we have omitted the tablespoon of mustard seed originally called for in the spice rub.

MAKE AHEAD: As with most holiday briskets, this one tastes better after a few days' refrigeration. The cooked meat needs to be weighted overnight as it rests in the refrigerator. Adapted from "The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes," by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray with David Hagedorn (St. Martin's Press, 2013).

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds first-cut beef brisket, all visible fat trimmed

4 cups homemade or store-bought veal stock

2 cups dry red wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 carrot, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

Steps

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have at hand a baking dish that is not too much larger than the size of the brisket.

Combine the salt, smoked paprika and black pepper in a small bowl, then rub the meat all over with the mixture. Combine the stock, wine and vinegar in a large liquid measuring cup.

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the brisket and sear for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until browned, then transfer to the baking dish. Scatter the rosemary and thyme sprigs around the meat, along with the garlic, carrot and celery. Pour the stock mixture over and around the brisket. Seal with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then bake for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is quite tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.

Carefully uncover; transfer the meat to a plate while you strain the liquid from the baking dish into a medium saucepan. Return the brisket to the baking dish. Place a plate directly on the meat, then weight the meat by placing canned goods (2 1/2 pounds total) on top of the plate. Cover the whole thing with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Heat the strained pan liquid over medium heat until it has reduced to about 2 1/2 cups of sauce; this should take about 20 minutes, and the liquid should look closer to a glaze when it's done. Cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, unwrap the brisket. Cut it into 3-inch blocks (about 6 ounces each), placing them in a saute pan just large enough to hold them as you work. (Alternatively, cut the brisket against the grain into very thin, long slices and place in the pan.) Pour just enough of the sauce over the meat to keep it moist. Heat over low heat until warmed through.

Heat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan until warmed through.

Transfer the meat to a platter; pour the sauce over it and serve warm.

NUTRITION: Per serving (based on 8): 360 calories, 37 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 1820 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar