Though brisket is a big cut, it freezes well. James will be home before me and I thought it'd be nice to have a little something special waiting in the freezer and to use up the rest of a bottle of red wine on the counter.
Looking for a easy, mostly hands off recipe I came across a hearty brisket dish by Suzanna Goin, one of my favorite LA chefs. I love the way she makes fairly simple dishes special by flawless technique, impeccable mix of flavors and worthy ingredients. Goin's recipe used beer. We had wine, so I improvised.
I started by searing the meat, seasoned with S&P, fresh thyme, crushed bay leaves, and mashed garlic for about 8 minutes on each side in hot oil (high heat) until a deep brown delicious looking crust formed on each side. Next I set the meat aside, turned the heat down to medium high and tossed in 2 chopped onions, 3 roughly chopped peeled carrots and a sprinkle red chili peppers. After about 8 minutes, off heat I added in 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 3 cups of red wine. After the liquids were reduced by about 1/4 I added in 4 cups of stock. Goin calls for beef stock but I only had chicken so I went with it. I brought the liquid to a boil and poured everything (vegetables and liquid) over the waiting brisket in the crock pot. After 6 hours on low the meat was tender and nearly ready to serve. Here's where Goin's technique comes into play. Instead of slicing and serving in the flavorful jus like my grandmother did, Goin pops the meat (with no liquid) in a 400º oven (20 minutes) to recrisp the already flavorful crust.
Famous for her layered flavors, Goin serves her brisket with pickled onions (1 cup water, 1⁄2 cup red-wine vinegar, 1⁄3 cup sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, 1⁄2 tbsp whole black peppercorns, dash of chile peppers, and 1 bay leaf to a brought to a boil and poured over a thinly sliced red onion -- cooled and stored in the fridge) and a creamy horseradish sour cream sauce. James isn't crazy about sour cream alone so I opted for a cauliflower purée seasoned with a touch of tangy creme fraiche and fragrant horseradish.