This star was recently born when I was tinkering with coffee, molasses and bourbon, a frequent combo in barbecues and short ribs, as a possible base for my brisket sauce, and I know it sounds like it would put some more hair on the chests of lumberjacks; but lo and behold, the results were fork-tender meat, and a wonderfully dark, balanced and unctuous sauce, much more toned down than the seemingly reckless sum of its parts.
To adapt the dish for Passover I simply substituted honey for the molasses, and brandy for the bourbon, and it worked just as gloriously. Go for it! PS: Please don’t believe anyone who will tell you first-cut brisket is not as moist and tender as its second-cut fat an unappealing slab of a counterpart: they will never say that again after they taste this!
- 2 large onions, sliced very thin
- 1 brisket, 6 to 7 pounds, first cut, rinsed and patted thoroughly dry
- 3 tablespoon instant coffee powder, decaf OK, mixed with 2 cups warm water
- 1/3 cup brandy (year round: bourbon)
- 1/3 cup honey (year round: molasses)
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Scatter the onions in a pan just large enough to fit the meat. Place the brisket on top of the onions. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl, and pour the mixture evenly over the meat. Cover tightly with foil, and bake 2 hours. Turn the brisket over, and bake uncovered 1 more hour. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and wait about 10 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile strain the cooking liquids into a small sauce pan, pressing hard on the solids (and discarding them), and reduce on a high flame to about 2 ½ cups. Let the brisket cool slightly. Slice thin against the grain. In places where the brisket is very long, cut across first before slicing. Pour the gravy on top.