Brisket with Dried Cherries and Crimini Mushrooms

Now that I know I can make a nice brisket by following a recipe, I decided it was time to experiment. On Saturday I picked up a buffalo brisket at the farmer’s market—buffalo being an extremely lean, low-cholesterol meat, I figured it would allow me and S to enjoy it with abandon. There was an open bottle of red wine in the fridge (yes, I know, it shouldn’t really be in there, but since I’m still not drinking very often I chill it to prolong its usefulness in cooking), and a bottle of Pom, the pomegranate juice that’s popped up all over town recently. I’d also bought some fresh rosemary and chives, and a bunch of crimini mushrooms. A small stash of dried cherries called to me from the cupboard. This had the makings of a luscious, tart-sweet dish. I’d seen something similar on Epicurious a while back, using cranberry juice concentrate, portobellos, and dried cranberries, so I thought this variation might be worth a shot.

Most of yesterday afternoon was given over to brisket-making—not that it took much effort from me, since it’s assembled in minutes—while the meat braised in a low oven. Every hour or so I basted it, and when it was falling apart, it was done. I held off on adding the mushrooms and dried cherries until today, when I reheated it for dinner, and that method worked out really well—both ingredients really held their own, while contributing nice textural and flavor counterpoints to the meat. This was definitely a success, a dish I expect to make again and again. Mmmmmm, brisket…

Weight Watchers readers: according to the recipe builder on WW’s site, this is 9 points per serving. That seems quite high to me, considering how lean buffalo is, but I can’t find any other way to estimate it. Hmph.

Brisket with Dried Cherries and Crimini Mushrooms
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 8

2 cups dry red wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 small bottles Pom pomegranate juice, cooked down to half
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 large onions, sliced
10 garlic cloves, chopped
3 slices bacon, roughly chopped [I used buffalo bacon]
3 T. chopped fresh rosemary
4 T. chopped fresh chives
1 4-pound trimmed flat-cut brisket [I used a buffalo brisket]
12 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 300°F. Whisk wine, broth, reduced pomegranate juice, and flour to blend in medium bowl; pour into a Dutch oven. Mix in onion, garlic, bacon, rosemary, and chives. Rub brisket on all sides with salt and pepper. Place brisket, fat side up, in roasting pan. [With a buffalo brisket there isn’t much fat, but it didn’t matter at all.] Spoon some of the wine mixture over. Cover pan with aluminum foil and then the lid.

Bake brisket until very tender, basting with pan juices every hour, about 3 1/2 hours. Transfer brisket to plate; cool 1 hour at room temperature.

[It’s always a good sign when your brisket falls apart as you slice it!]

Thinly slice brisket across grain. Arrange slices in pan with sauce, overlapping slices slightly. (Brisket can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place mushrooms and cherries in sauce around brisket. Cover pan with foil. Bake until mushrooms are tender and brisket is heated through, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if brisket has been refrigerated). Transfer sliced brisket and sauce to platter and serve.