The combination of warming spices (allspice, coriander, black pepper, and ginger) adds an exotic flavor note to this dish. During braising, the apples collapse, mingle with the braising liquid, and become a spicy-tart-sweet, fruit compote-style sauce. For best flavor, season the brisket with the spice rub 12 to 36 hours ahead.
- Spice Rub
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon whole allspice berries
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 (3-pound) Certified Piedmontese Brisket Flat
- Braising Liquid
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or bacon drippings
- 1 medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- ¾ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- 1 pound sweet-tart apples (such as Pippin, Gravenstein, or Granny Smith) peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces; divided
- 1 cup beef, veal, or chicken broth
- 2 strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler (each about 3 inches by ¾ inch)
- 2 (3-inch) leafy, fresh marjoram or sage sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
For the spice rub (12 to 36 hours ahead): Combine the coriander, peppercorns, and allspice in a small dry skillet over medium heat, and heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices are fragrant and lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool, then grind to a coarse powder in a small mortar or a spice grinder. Add the salt and grind to combine. Sprinkle the spice rub all over both sides of the brisket, rubbing lightly so the spices adhere. Lay the brisket on a rimmed baking sheet, cover loosely, and refrigerate for 12 to 36 hours.
Heat the broiler on high. Slide the brisket under the broiler so the meat is 4 to 5 inches from the heat. Broil, rotating the pan as necessary, until the surface is beautifully browned and crusty but not charred, then turn and brown the other side, 2 to 6 minutes per side (depending on the intensity of your broiler). Remove the brisket from the broiler, and set it aside. Turn the oven down to 300°F.
In a large Dutch oven or other braising pot, heat the oil or drippings over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté´ until softened and beginning to color, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the ginger and raisins, and saute´ for another minute, until the ginger releases its fragrance. Add the wine. Bring to a boil and boil until reduced by about three quarters, 5 minutes. Add the stock, half the apples, the orange zest, herb sprigs, and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil and boil for a few minutes, stirring once or twice. Lower the brisket into the pot. If it feels a bit squeezed, don’t worry: the meat will shrink by almost one third as it braises.
Cover the pot and slide into the oven to braise. After 10 to 15 minutes, check to see that the liquid isn’t simmering too fiercely. If it is, reduce the oven temperature 10 or 15 degrees. Then continue to braise at a gentle simmer. Turn the brisket with tongs after another 30 minutes. After another 1½ hours, turn the brisket again and add the remaining apples. Continue braising for another half-hour or so, until the meat is fork-tender, a total of 2½ to 3 hours.
Using tongs, gently remove the brisket from the pot, and set it on a carving board with a trough to collect any juices. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Skim any clear surface fat from the liquid, and remove the herb sprigs, orange zest, and bay leaf. Taste. If the sauce seems thin, boil over medium-high heat to reduce and concentrate it for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Carve the brisket diagonally across the grain into ½- inch slices. Ladle the sauce over, and serve.
Pairing: A spicy, deeply flavored Shiraz from Australia, Syrah from California, or a rich Zinfandel.
Note: Braised brisket is wonderful served immediately, but it tastes even better when left to sit for 1 or 2 days in the refrigerator. Once cooled, transfer the brisket to a baking dish and pour over the braising liquid. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, scrape off and discard the fat that has solidified on the surface, and remove the meat. Carve the chilled brisket diagonally across the grain into ½-inch slices. Return it to the dish with the chilled braising liquid. Cover with foil and heat in a 300°F oven until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes; remove the foil after the first 20 minutes.