Cuban Creole Stew Braised Beef Brisket

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Adapted from Chef Daniel Boulud’s Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2006. From French chef Daniel Boulud, this simple stew rewards you with complex taste: at once, bright, sweet, savory, zesty, spicy. If you can’t find calabaza squash (aka West Indian pumpkin), substitute butternut squash, acorn squash, or pumpkin. Boulud doesn’t recommend freezing.

  • 6-8 ServingsServings

Ingredients

  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound chorizo, sliced
  • 2 Spanish onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 (1-pound) calabaza squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 large (¾- to 1-pound) sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 ripe plantain, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Preparation

The day before you want to serve the dish, season the brisket with salt and pepper and place in a nonreactive container, such as a Pyrex bowl. In a blender, puree the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, lime zest and juice, and cumin. Pour this marinade over the brisket, allowing some to go underneath the meat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F.

Scrape the marinade off the beef, reserving the marinade. In a medium cast iron pot or Dutch oven over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the brisket and sear both sides until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the beef to a platter. Add the sausage to the pot and brown for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Return the brisket to the pot. Add the reserved marinade, the squash, sweet potato, plantain, and stock. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Braise until the brisket is fork-tender, about 4 hours. Check the seasonings. If the sauce is too thin or is not flavored intensely enough, ladle most of it off into another pot and simmer it until it thickens and intensifies, then add it back to the first pot.

Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and slice the meat against the grain. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.

Note: You can find kosher chorizo at many local butchers or from Jack's Gourmet.

—From The Brisket Book/ Andrews McMeel Publishing