This recipe was inspired by a recipe in the September 26, 2001 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Food section on the subject of comfort food in the days post-9/11.
That particular recipe credits Chronicle food writer Robin Davis who says she loves this dish for the aroma that drifts through the house as the meat cooks — and for the leftovers. The cooking aroma does make the long cooking time tolerable. Serve this with some creamy mashed potatoes for a wonderfully soothing comfort meal.
Place the mushrooms in a small bowl. Use 1 cup of the hot (preferably
boiling) water. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand for 30 minutes to soften.
Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid, squeezing as much liquid as
possible back into the bowl. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.
[Update: January 2006 – there’s a great tip in the March 2006 issue of Fine Cooking magazine about using a French press coffee maker for rehydrating the porcini mushrooms. Turns out that a small French press is ideal for doing this – and avoids the need for using a filter for the liquid, etc.]
Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or 2 layers of cheesecloth.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until translucent.
Reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the onions begin to
brown, stirring from time to time.
Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the onions
turn a deep golden brown.
Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits in the pot.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same Dutch oven over high heat.
Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Brown well on all sides. Transfer the
meat to a platter.
Add the mushroom-soaking liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil,
scraping up any browned bits.
Return the brisket to the pot, along with the onion-wine mixture, the
remaining 3 cups water, the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a
Tightly cover the pan. Place in the oven and cook for about 3 hours, until
the brisket is very tender.
Transfer the meat to a platter and tent with foil.
Remove the bay leaves from the cooking liquid. Working in batches, puree the
cooking liquid in a processor until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan. Adjust
seasoning and rewarm, if necessary.
Cut the brisket across the grain into thin slices. Arrange on a platter.
Spoon the sauce over the meat.
Save your leftovers…they’re even better tomorrow!
(Added: October 12, 2001)