This is my “meat from the motherland”. I grew up in the dawn of what I call the Age of Convenience where fast food, frozen dinners, and canned soups and fruits dominated much of the American family table. Fortunately for me, my mother was “anti-convenience” and she was in the kitchen almost every evening for at least an hour preparing our family dinner.
I wasn’t much help to her as she prepared her delicious brisket or leg of lamb. When she was done, she and my father, my sister and I gathered around the dinner table, no television in sight, and talked about our day. I might not have even realised it then but my mother planted the seeds of my love of cooking and gathering around the table.
Unlike some mothers of today who have a vast repertoire of recipes, my mom Doris had only about a dozen tried and true dishes she prepared while I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. And by the way, they weren’t recipes, just dishes she made from trial and a few errors that she was quick to fix.
Of all of them, my favourite was her brisket, which she cooked for God-knows-how-many hours. I would come home from grammar school and I swear I could smell – even feel – the brisket before I even opened our front door.
But then, then “the wait” began. She wouldn’t let me tear into it until our beloved nightly ritual; my mom, my dad Lawrence, my sister Gail and I sitting around the dinner table discussing our day. It was a cherished routine, something that I think is becoming a rarity in today’s technology-crazed world.
It’s probably no big surprise what I’m going to say next, but I’ll say it anyway. That brisket was delicious.
1 Westholme brisket, cut in half
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 carrot, cut into quarters
1 celery stalk, cut into quarters
1 fennel, cut into quarters
70g (2.5 oz) tomato paste
1½ tbsp mustard seeds
4 chile de arbol
3 bay leaves
1 large or 2 small garlic heads
1 x 750ml bottle red wine
1 x 375ml bottle stout beer
1.4L (1½ Qt) chicken, veal or beef stock
Salt & black pepper
3 sprigs thyme
1 small bunch parsley
1 cup crème fraiche
2 tbsp Atomic horseradish
1 tbsp horseradish grated
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Tabasco
2 garlic cloves
½ cup oregano leaves
1 cup mint leaves
¼ cup parsley leaves
½ lemon, juiced
1½ tsp capers
Extra virgin olive oil, to blend
Salt & pepper
In a rondeau (heavy-based pan), heat up vegetable oil. Season brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear brisket well on both sides and place in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan.
Pour out excess oil from rondeau and add onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Saute.
Add tomato paste and saute until caramelised.
Add mustard seeds, chile de arbol, bay and garlic. Cook, stirring.
Deglaze with red wine and beer. Add stock. Taste and adjust seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour mixture over brisket. Tie together thyme and parsley and add to roasting pan. Cover tightly with lid or foil. Place in 150C / 300F oven and braise overnight or for about 8 hours.
Serve alongside Horseradish cream and Salsa verde.
In a bowl, add all ingredients and mix until cohesive.
In a blender or mortar and pestle, combine all ingredients until coarsely mixed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
"I would come home from grammar school and I swear I could smell – even feel – the brisket before I even opened our front door."
– Nancy Silverton