March 1st, 2010

Doufeu part deux: Brisket of Beef

platter of sliced brisket

Goodness, it’s been unusually Meaty around here of late at Good Food Matters, what with braised pork shoulder, the cauldron of Italian Meatballs, and now this vast platter of beef.

I do promise to bring balance to the blog with postings that feature vegetables, fruits, grains, and the likes. But, in the interest of good experiments, i.e. The Illustrious Vessel, we’ll press forward today with Doufeu, part deux.

trimmed brisket

For a number of years—-back in The Day—-we catered the large Seder for Congregation Micah. It was a great service offered to their community who were either unable to observe this Passover meal and ritual at home, or simply desired to celebrate it with a group (150-200!) of fellow members.

I am not Jewish, but had many Jewish catering clients, and so I had a basic understanding of what was needed for the service, what was acceptable—from a dietary standpoint—and what had to be avoided. The director of Congregation Micah provided us with all the guidelines, and a copy of the Haggadah, the special text.

Restrictions include: no dairy, no leavened grain, no legumes, corn, or rice.

It was a challenging and rich experience, to design a balanced menu, to properly (and tastefully!) prepare the meal, and serve all the components in their rightful order to so many people.

We learned some fabulous recipes—I make a mean Matzo Ball Soup, just thinking about it now gets my mouth watering!

It was a great history lesson too, learning how the Seder plate holds symbols in the form of foods to bring mindfulness to the Exodus, the struggle from slavery to freedom.

We always prepared beef brisket, using a recipe given by a client long ago, that slow cooks the meat with onions, chili sauce, red wine, and ginger ale. The results were always remarkable: the beef rich and tender, covered in a sauce thickened with caramelized onions, deepened with wine, spiked with sweet-sour notes from the chili sauce and soda.

With the first day of Passover coming up on March 30th, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out my brisket recipe, with modifications, in the Doufeu.

I am happy to report that the results were Superb.

seared brisket

Searing the rub of salt, black pepper, and paprika onto the meat goes far in creating a lovely bronzed brisket—-critical to the braise.

add chili sauce etc

I reduced the amount of liquids in my recipe for the doufeu to achieve the desired flavor profile. Plenty of onion is still needed though!

cooked brisket

Brisket of Beef
2-3 T. Olive Oil
6 lb. Brisket, trimmed of excess fat
Kosher Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
3-4 Onions, sliced
2-3 Garlic cloves, minced

½ cup red wine
½ cup ginger ale
½ cup chili sauce

Heat Doufeu on low. Add olive oil. Rub trimmed brisket with salt, black pepper and paprika.
Brown the brisket on both sides and remove.
Add about ½ of the sliced onion and sauté for a few minutes. Lay the brisket on top of the bed of onions. Pour over red wine and ginger ale. Spread the chili sauce over the top of the brisket, sprinkle with minced garlic and remaining sliced onions. Cover with lid, fill with ice, and turn heat down to lowest setting.

After 3 hours, remove lid, flip over the brisket. Cover and cook for about 2 more hours.
Meat will feel very tender when pierced with a fork. When done, remove brisket.
Slice brisket thinly, across the grain, and lay out on a serving platter. Cover with hot oniony gravy and serve.

kitchen brisket setting

This platter of sliced brisket was much-loved at our last community pot luck!

Posted in Meats/Poultry, Recipes

18 Responses to “Doufeu part deux: Brisket of Beef”
  1. claudia @ ceF Says:

    my grandma would’ve approved this post
    i just know it…

  2. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    The meat must be so tender! I adore the hearty style of your cooking!

  3. Nancy Says:

    Such a wonderful recipe; I like the addition of ginger ale to the braising liquid. I’ve never done that before! The brisket looks absolutely gorgeous and now I want to make one!

  4. Fluffy Says:

    it does look delicious, even to this vegetarian, but i’m looking forward to your balancing the blog!

  5. Fluffy Says:

    what other things did you cook for the seder?

  6. goodfoodmatters Says:

    claudia–thanks! I believe that she would have, too!

    nancy—the ginger ale thing seemed weird to me too,
    so retro, another era of cooking, really—-
    but it works!

    fluff–I promise that upcoming posts will include
    much veggie and grain balance
    regarding the seder, let’s see….
    with the brisket, we prepared asparagus roasted
    in olive oil and thyme, parsleyed new potatoes,
    vegetable-matzo kugel, braised-honeyed carrots
    matzo ball soup matzo brownies, macaroons
    delicious foods!

  7. Patrick O'Rourke Says:


    These last three blogs and the meat dishes contained therein have made my mouth water. Great work, great photos. I’d like to volunteer my services as a taster, I have a great CV. Going to Seattle this week to meet new Grandson (Levi) and will stop at Sur Le Table at Pike Place Market and check on a doufeu. Best always, PO

  8. Tracy (Amuse-bouche for Two) Says:

    I’ve had a craving for red meat lately. This post isn’t helping. :)

  9. Emily Passino Says:

    Am I the only one who had to look up “Doufeu”?

  10. rachel Says:

    I am loving all these posts, we have a shortage of meat around here. I also love brisket of beef cooked long and slow…..intruiged by the ginger beer.
    I have pan envy.

  11. Leisa Hammett Says:

    Hardy fare for a wicked March that teases us with tender strokes of sunshine and then whips us with its heart-stopping artic breath. I was just thinking of you this very morning as I admired my “barista art.” You were the first I ever heard use that term. (Where have I been?)

  12. Allison Wright Says:

    yummmm!!! I don’t have the illustrious vessel…but I think I might try the recipe in the crockpot. It was mighty tasty!

  13. Leslie Gardner Says:

    I bought a 2.5Q doufeu because I was intrigued with the concept and liked the idea of the smaller pot since I am often cooking for one or two. All of the recipes I’m finding, however, are for much larger dishes starting with big pieces of meat. This brisket looks fabulous, but can I simply cut the recipe to fit my pot or is there more to it than that? Also, your pork/pear/cider dish is cooked with the bone in to add flavor – how much will I lose if I cut the bone out so the meat will fit in the pot? I am beginning to think my new little pot may not be as useful as I’d hoped. Any advice or recipe ideas would be sincerely appreciated! Many thanks.

  14. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Leslie,
    Yes, I would cut down that brisket to fit into your smaller doufeu. And, while you might lose some flavor depth by cutting out the bone of the pork shoulder, I have found that the doufeu method does intensify the flavors. I also cooked a rack of pork (there’s a post in 2/11 about a Santa Fe style one I made) that was sumptuous in the doufeu–and would easily cut into smaller racks. You could try a boneless pork loin as well. Don’t give up on your little pot yet!

  15. Leslie Gardner Says:

    Thank you! I can’t wait to try your recipes this weekend. Two questions, do I cut the cooking time in addition to the ingredients? And if I use one of your dutch oven recipes in the doufeu, is there a general rule of thumb for cutting the liquid? Thanks, you’re wonderful!

  16. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Leslie, the cooking time for the brisket will remain close to the same–low and slow is the way—it takes 4-5 hours to yield really tender meat.
    When I cooked a boneless pork shoulder, it took an hour less than the bone-in to cook to succulent tenderness.
    Re: quantity of liquid–you may be able to reduce by half.
    Have fun, and success with your doufeu!

  17. Leslie Gardner Says:

    Thank you!

  18. Jody Says:

    I just bought a dofeu today! I look forward to making the brisket and pork recipes. Thanks!

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