3 to 4-poundbeef brisket, already trimmed of excess fat - see recipe notes
Freshly ground black pepper
3tablespoonsolive oil, divided
Sprigs of fresh thyme
1lbpearl onions, ends trimmed, skins removed
For the braising sauce:
1large shallot, minced
3tablespoonsflour, divided (plus more if needed)
1cupdry red wine
1large navel orange
1tablespoonfresh rosemary, minced
1tablespoonfresh thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Season the brisket on both sides with salt, onion powder, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Preheat a heavy braising pan (see notes) over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with oil.
Sear the brisket until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until slightly softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Scatter 2 tablespoons of the flour over the shallots and garlic, and using a spatula, scrape up any browned bits that may have accumulated on the bottom of the pan.
Continue cooking until the flour is well incorporated and beginning to turn golden.
Whisk in the water and continue cooking until smooth and starting to thicken.
Slowly whisk in the wine and orange juice and continue whisking until smooth.
Zest the whole orange and add it to the sauce along with the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.
Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cut 4 or 5 slices from the center of the orange that you used for zest. Lay them on top of the brisket and top with fresh thyme sprigs.
Squeeze the juice from any remaining orange pieces into the sauce, stir, then pour the mixture evenly over the meat.
Cover the pan and place it in the oven for 2 hours, removing midway through the cooking time to baste the meat with the sauce.
After the brisket has been cooking for 2 hours, add the pearl onions to the pan and baste the meat again.
Cover and return to the oven for 1 more hour.
Remove the meat from the sauce, place it on a carving board, and tent with foil to keep warm. Transfer the onions to a dish and set aside.
Pour the braising sauce into a gravy separator, (or skim the fat from the top with a spoon). Transfer about a cup to a glass measure, then add the balance to a small saucepan.
Make a slurry for thickening the sauce by whisking 1 tablespoon of flour into the reserved cup of braising sauce until completely blended.
Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and slowly pour the slurry into the sauce whisking continually until smooth and beginning to thicken. If necessary, repeat the process using a little more flour. Once the sauce consistency is to your liking, transfer to a bowl or gravy boat.
Carve the brisket against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer to a serving platter and spoon some of the sauce over top.
Garnish with the pearl onions, some orange slices, and fresh herbs.
Tips for Making This Recipe
This meal can be prepared a day in advance and easily reheated for about 45 minutes at 325°F. If you do plan to refrigerate it before serving, you can skip the section in the instructions for skimming the fat from the sauce and just remove what solidifies overnight in the refrigerator.
If you don't have a braising pan:
If you don't own a braiser, don't worry, just use an oven-proof pan that isn't too much larger than the brisket itself to avoid excess evaporation. A deep lasagna pan tightly covered with heavy-duty foil works really well.
This recipe was adapted from "Fast & Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays" by Marlene Sorosky (out of print).