Okay, I know this isn’t very pretty, but that doesn’t stop it from being all sorts of delicious. I don’t cook a lot of beef dishes, but this one caught my eye and I knew James would love it. The brisket is braised for four hours until it simply falls apart in tender, savory amazingness. This dish is packed full of fantastic flavors, bright and slightly tart from the cranberries, rich and complex from the wine, this is the definition of umami. I love that it’s very saucy, it basically creates its own gravy. This dish begs to be served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, so that’s what I did – it was awesome.

This is a true Sunday dinner – yes, it does take a lot of time, so it pretty much necessitates weekend cooking. But more than that, this is the kind of meal that you’d have at home with your whole family. This is home cooking comfort. It would be a great dish for company, but I don’t see why I should have to save it just for that, you know? We live about 7 hours away from our nearest family, so we don’t have many occasions for big family meals and it would be easy to just cook fast dishes that are sized more appropriately for our two-person household. But sometimes I just crave those Big Deal Sunday Dinners that my mom makes – this dish fit the bill perfectly, and yes there was a ton of leftovers but they were awesome leftovers.

And while it may seem big and fancy and time-comsuming, the majority of the time is hands off, in the oven. There was probably 15 minutes of work involved in making this, it’s actually remarkably simple after you brown the beef – you just toss a bunch of stuff in the pot and then throw the thing in the oven! And what comes out is magic.

Braised Brisket with Cranberries

From Everyday Food, November 2008

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 4 1/4 hours Yield: Serves 8

3 pounds beef brisket, fat trimmed to a 1/4-inch layer
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries
1 bag (1 pound) frozen pearl onions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lowest position. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high. Add brisket, fat side down. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating once. Transfer brisket to a plate (reserve pot).
  2. Add flour to pot and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add broth, wine, bay leaf, molasses, half the cranberries, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Return brisket to pot, and cover. Transfer to oven; bake 3 hours.
  3. Stir in onions; cover, and return pot to oven. Cook 30 minutes more. Stir in remaining cranberries; return pot to oven. Cook, uncovered, until brisket is fork-tender, 30 minutes more. Discard bay leaf before serving.
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