There’s no shortage of braised brisket recipes out there, each claiming to be the tastiest way to coax a tough piece of meat into a tender, melt-in-your-mouth meal. Most of these recipes are very good, but they also tend to be very similar. The meat cooks in some blend of wine/tomatoes/broth (and often, a sweet sauce of some sort from a jar) and then emerges hours later smothered in a thick, rich coating.
This recipe for Lemon-Parsley Brisket gives brisket a makeover, changing the flavor entirely. Lemon is so often used with fish and poultry that it might seem like an odd choice for a big chunk of red meat. It turns out to be the perfect accent though, adding a light, zesty flavor to every bite. Combine the lemon – both its juice and zest – with a generous amount of garlic and loads of fresh, bright green parsley and you’ll experience brisket in an entirely new way. Sure, it’s still a hearty roast with layers of crispy, fatty, tender meat, but the overall flavor is light and fresh.
During the long cooking time, leeks literally melt into a silky sauce spiked with lemon juice and thickened by fat dripping off the roast. When you serve the brisket, spoon this sauce over slices of the tender meat. Garnish liberally with parsley and keep an extra lemon nearby. Chances are you’ll find yourself wanting to grate even more lemon zest on top.
1 4-5 pound brisket
4 to 6 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from three lemons
2 to 3 cups of water
4 to 6 leeks, dark green top removed, light green and white part cut in half, then sliced thinly
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Finely chop garlic cloves on a cutting board and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt on top. Using the flat side of a large knife, mash and grind the cloves until they turn into a paste (the salt creates friction that helps a paste form). Mix the garlic paste in a bowl with the remaining salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Vigorously rub half of this mixture all over the brisket.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large ovenproof cast-iron pot or other heavy pot with a lid, heat olive oil. Sear brisket on each side until nicely browned, but not so long that the garlic begins to burn. Remove the meat.
Add lemon juice and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Use a spoon to loosen the bits of meat and garlic stuck to the bottom.
Spread the remaining garlic paste evenly on top of the meat and place the brisket back in the pot. The liquid should cover the meat halfway, if it doesn’t, add a little more water.
Add the leeks to the liquid around the meat. Cover the pot tightly (if you don’t have a lid, use foil) and cook for 2 to 3 hours in the oven, or until the meat is very tender.
Remove the lid, sprinkle parsley all over, and cook for 15 more minutes without the lid.
The brisket can be eaten immediately but is also fantastic the next day. Make sure to slice the roast against the grain. When served, top with the sauce around the meat, more fresh parsley, lemon zest and sea salt to taste.