Braised Brisket with Garlic
36 plump cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
about 5 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of fat, patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cups beef broth, or chicken broth, preferably homemade
3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Drop the garlic cloves into boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain immediately and peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Set aside on paper towels to dry.
In a roasting pan large enough to hold the meat, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat (you may have to use two burners). Add the brisket and cook for about 10 minutes until well browned on both sides. Transfer to a platter.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Add the garlic cloves and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the cloves are tinged with gold.
Add the vinegar and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, thyme, and rosemary sprigs and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper and return it to the pan, fat side up. Spoon the garlic sauce over the meat.
Cover (use foil if necessary) and roast in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Baste it with the pan juices every 30 minutes. Periodically check the pan juices; they should be gently bubbling. If they are boiling rapidly, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and tent it loosely with foil.
Strain the pan juice, reserving the garlic and discarding the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Skim and discard as much fat as possible from the liquid.
Transfer about half of the garlic cloves and about 1 cup of braising liquid to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer the puree, the remaining garlic cloves, and the braising liquid to a skillet. Add the chopped rosemary, minced garlic, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the gravy is reduced to the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings. (For a smoother gravy, puree all the garlic.)
Cut the brisket into thin slices across the grain at a slight diagonal. Arrange on a serving platter and spoon some of the hot gravy over the meat.