Each spring, I am reminded of a French proverb: En avril, ne te découvre pas d'un fil. The translation is, In April, do not take off a thread. In other words, at this time of year, spring may be in the air, but don't pack away those winter sweaters and coats just yet.
I created this beef brisket for a season in transition. With the weather still cool, most people crave nourishing comfort food. This brisket—which is marinated for 24 hours and then braised for four— is incredibly satisfying. And yet I tilt the meal toward the coming season by incorporating some of the delicate spring vegetables that we are beginning to see in the market: young carrots, fresh fava beans, and baby turnips. I use beer in my marinade, but one could certainly substitute red or white wine.
This fragrant and hearty dish easily serves a crowd and would be ideal for the spring holiday table. After all, the April showers will soon pass, and we'll be on to May flowers. Or, as they say in France: En mai, fais ce qu'il te plaît. In May, do what you please.
Beer-Braised Beef Brisket with Sautéed Spring Vegetables
Makes 4–6 servings
1 3-lb. beef brisket 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 12-oz. bottle dark beer Salt and cracked black pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil 2 yellow onions, each cut into 6 wedges 3 cups unsalted beef stock
1 cup crème fraîche 2 cups arugula, chopped very fine
11⁄2 T grated fresh horseradish 2 T butter
15 baby turnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut into quarters
15 baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh fava beans, shelled
1⁄4 cup chopped chives
1⁄4 cup cider vinegar, 1 tsp. set aside
Place the brisket in a shallow baking pan or a large, heavy-duty ziplock bag that will hold it snugly. Add the garlic and pour the beer over the beef. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the meat at least once.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325°F. Remove the brisket from the mari- nade and pat it dry, reserving the marinade. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Warm the olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown it evenly on all sides until caramel brown, about 15 to 20 min- utes total. Remove the meat, then add the onions to the pot. Sauté the onions for about 2 minutes, then lay the meat on top. Add the reserved marinade, bring the liquid to a boil, and then add the beef stock. When the liquid returns to a boil, cover the pot and place it in the oven to braise for 2 hours.
Remove the cover and turn the brisket over to ensure even cooking. Make sure the liquid is at a very gentle simmer, not boiling. Re-cover and braise for another 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, arugula, and horseradish, adding a pinch of salt and a touch of water, until it has the consistency of a creamy dressing. Keep refrigerated.
Remove the brisket from the oven and let it rest in the liquid for 20 minutes.
Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the turnips, car- rots, and favas, along with a splash of water, and sauté for about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt to taste. When the vegetables are cooked through, add the chives.
Transfer the meat to a cutting board and slice thinly across the grain. Scoop the onions from the pot and arrange them on a serving platter. Place the sliced brisket on top of the onions and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Return the braising liquid to the stove, add 1⁄4 cup cider vinegar, and set over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half.
Spread the vegetables around the sliced brisket and strain the hot liquid over the top of every- thing. Just before serving,
stir the remaining tea- spoon of cider vinegar into the arugula-horseradish cream and adjust the seasoning. Serve on the side.
What to Drink:
Raj Vaidya, head sommelier at Daniel restaurant, recommends château Yvonne Saumur-Champigny "La Folie" 2011 ($24), a cabernet Franc from the loire Valley, as an ideal accompaniment to this earthy brisket. "It has structure and tannin but also a freshness that matches the spring vegetables and the spicy horseradish," he says. As an alternative, he suggests a dark beer that highlights the rich beer braise, such as Carton Brewing's Shipwreck Porter ($15).