Beef Brisket with Wild Mushrooms
2 heads garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2/3 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 2 ½- to 3-pound piece beef brisket
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup dry red wine (Editor's note: Pedroncelli Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound sliced wild mushrooms, any sort
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Chopped parsley or arugula to garnish
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Peel and mince two of the garlic cloves and set aside.
Place the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Let the mushrooms soak for 20 minutes. Remove them, squeeze out any extra water back into the bowl, and then strain the soaking liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Chop the soaked mushrooms, and set the mushrooms and the strained soaking liquid aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large, deep ovenproof pan or stockpot with a lid over medium high heat. Add the oil. Season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the brisket on both sides for about 4 minutes per side, until browned. Tra nsfer the brisket to a large plate.
Return the pan with the oil to medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, until the wine is reduced by half.
Add the beef broth, the chopped soaked mushrooms, the strained mushroom soaking liquid, and the thyme to the pot. Tuck the brisket back into the pot; the meat will be about halfway submerged. Tuck the remaining garlic cloves in their skins around the meat into the liquid. Cover the pot and transfer it to the preheated oven.
Cook for about 3 1/2 hours until the brisket is fork tender. Remove it from the pot to a cutting board with a moat to catch the juices, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Let the braising liqui d rest in the pot.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat until melted.
Add the wild mushrooms and reserved, minced garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the mushrooms have turned nicely brown, and any liquid that was released has been evaporated, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the balsamic vinegar and stir to release any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Skim and discard any fat that has accumulated on the braising liquid. Stir the sauteed mushrooms into the pot.
When the meat has finished resting, cut it into slices as thin or thick as you like, across the grain. Transfer the slices neatly back to the pot, and nestle them into the sauce and mushrooms.
Serve hot. Alternately, y ou may place the meat on a deep serving platter with sides, and ladle the sauce with the whole garlic cloves and mushrooms over the top. Sprinkle over the parsley or arugula.