Tamarind Brisket

So it's the day before Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and I'm cooking up a storm and don't have much time to write. That said, I wanted to share a favorite new way of making my holiday brisket. Up until now the base of my brisket was onions, onions, onions (a bay leaf and dry vermouth, too.) But for the last few years I have been making it intriguingly sweet-and-sour with the addition of tamarind paste, orange juice, tomato puree, ground cloves, onions and lots of shallots. Tomorrow evening we will be nine for dinner (whereas my close friend Helen Kimmel has 25 guests each night!), including the food maven Arthur Schwartz and historian Bob Harned, Bob and Becky Spitz (Bob is currently writing a new biography of Julia Child and Becky is writing a book, too), Dale Bellisfield, clinical herbalist and health care practitioner, who is also an urban bee keeper! It is her honey that we will be having to drizzle over apples (symbol for a sweet new year.) Dale's beautiful daughter, Samantha (a fabulous men's wear designer) will also be joining my husband, my beautiful daughter Shayna, and me around the table. #1 son is in California but I wish him a happy new year, with lots of love. And l'shana tova to all of you who celebrate the holiday. Here's the recipe:

Tamarind Brisket with Spring Shallots and Tiny Potatoes Ask your butcher for the “first cut” and make sure to leave some of the fat on the brisket for best results.

Note: You may cook 2 or 3 potatoes per person (there is a lot of food so you may only want to do 2.)

5 pound boneless beef brisket ¼ cup olive oil 2 pounds peeled onions 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate* 2 cups orange juice 2 cups tomato puree 2 cups beef broth 4 large cloves garlic scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 12 large shallots, (about 12 ounces), peeled and halved lengthwise 1 or 1-1/2 pounds tiny round thin-skinned potatoes (16 or 24), scrubbed not peeled

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a very large enamel casserole with cover, put 2 tablespoon oil. Season meat with salt and pepper and brown over high heat, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove meat.

Cut onions in half through stem end.  Put cut side down on board and slice very thin.  Add 2 tbsp. oil to pot and add onions.   Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown. Return beef to pot and put on top of onions.

Put tamarind in a bowl.  Whisk in orange juice, tomato puree, and beef broth.  Push garlic through a garlic press and whisk into mixture.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour mixture over brisket.

Bake 1 hour, covered. Turn brisket over, cover and  bake 1 hour longer. Add potatoes and shallots. Bake 1 hour longer.

Transfer brisket to cutting board. Let cool 15 minutes. Thinly cut across the grain and reassemble slices to original form.  Transfer back to pot.  Spoon liquid over meat and cover pot.  Cook 30 minutes longer until very tender. Add salt to taste.  Serves 8

*Available in Indian food stores and Middle Eastern markets.  It comes in small plastic jars and is called concentrate of tamarind.