Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They often bring some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them and cook up a feast.
When it comes to prunes, there are two camps of thought: loathe and love. Barb considers herself a member of the latter, and while she admits that not everyone shares in her enthusiasm, she insists that this recipe -- brisket with prunes and merlot -- is a keeper. "A lot of people find that prunes are too sweet, but don't worry: this recipe isn't too sweet -- just incredibly rich and delicious," she says. The dish, which Barb tweaked from a Bon Appetit recipe, gets an extra boost, she notes, when served over buttered noodles -- and more merlot. The brisket is currently $7.99 a pound at Marczyk's, and for the merlot, she suggests a bottle of Domaine d'Astros Rouge, priced at $9.99.
Savory and Sweet Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes Yield: 8 servings
1 4 to 4 1/3 pound beef brisket trimmed of most fat 2 tbs. olive oil 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes in juice, diced (Barb recommends Sclafani tomatoes) 2 cups merlot 2 lbs. onions, sliced 4 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced 16 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 1/2 cups pitted large prunes 1 tbs. fresh thyme, finely chopped 2 cups prune juice 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Pat brisket dry; sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. 2. Heat oil in heavy extra-large skillet over high heat. Add brisket and cook until deep brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer brisket, fat side up, to large roasting pan. Add tomatoes with juice and wine to skillet. Remove from heat, scrape up any browned bits, and pour mixture over brisket. 3. Distribute onions, carrots, and garlic around brisket. Add prunes and thyme; drizzle with 1 cup prune juice and 3 tablespoons vinegar. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover pan with heavy-duty foil; place in oven. 4. Braise brisket until tender, about 3 hours and 15 minutes. Uncover and cool 1 hour at room temperature. 5. Remove brisket from roasting pan, scraping off juices. Place on work surface; cut across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Spoon off fat from top of pan juices. Place 1 cup vegetables (no prunes) and 1 cup braising liquid from pan into processor and puree. 6. Return puree to pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon prune juice and 1 teaspoon vinegar to pan. Heat sauce; season with salt and pepper. 7. Overlap brisket slices in 13x9x2- inch glass baking dish. Pour sauce over brisket, separating slices to allow some sauce to flow between. 8. Rewarm brisket, covered, in 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle brisket with parsley; serve.
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