West African-Inspired Brisket
During Passover, this brisket, an American Jewish dish deeply influenced by the food historian Michael W. Twitty’s Black heritage, will entice guests. Made with vibrant ingredients common in the cuisines of West and Central Africa, Mr. Twitty’s brisket gets its culinary power from the fresh flavors of bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, and the aromas of ground chiles, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Bathed in a piquant sauce, this brisket pairs well with rice or fufu (pounded tubers or plantains). According to Mr. Twitty, it may encourage table conversations spoken in Pidgin rather than Yiddish.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1tablespoon paprika
- 1teaspoon garlic powder
- 1teaspoon ground ginger
- 1teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1teaspoon ground mild or medium red chile powder
- 1teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1tablespoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1(5-pound) brisket
- 2large red onions, cut into rounds
- 4tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3white or yellow onions, diced
- 3bell peppers (green, red and yellow), diced
- 1(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (Kosher for Passover), drained
- 2cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock (Kosher for Passover)
- 1tablespoon brown sugar
- 1teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 2fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Step 1Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the paprika, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, chile powder and cayenne with the salt and pepper. Save 2 teaspoons for the vegetables, then sprinkle the rest all over the brisket and rub in well.
Step 2Arrange the red onion rounds in a single layer in a roasting pan or large baking dish that can fit the brisket and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Step 3Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low in a very large Dutch oven or large, deep skillet that fits the brisket. Cook the beef until lightly seared (don’t let the spices burn), about 5 to 6 minutes on both sides. Transfer to the roasting pan, placing the brisket on top of the red onion rounds.
Step 4Add the diced onions and bell peppers to the oil in the Dutch oven and season with the saved 2 teaspoons of seasoning. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mix together, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Step 5Add the stock, brown sugar, horseradish, bay leaves and thyme. Spoon the vegetables over the brisket to cover it and pour everything else from the Dutch oven into the roasting pan.
Step 6Cover the pan tightly with foil. If the foil touches the top of the brisket, cover the brisket with parchment paper first, then cover the pan with the foil. Bake until a fork slides into the brisket with only a little resistance, about 3½ hours.
Step 7To serve right away, transfer the brisket to a cutting board and cut across the grain into thin slices. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with salt and spoon the vegetables on top. You can serve the remaining sauce alongside or save for another use. To make ahead, cool the brisket, then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Once the brisket is chilled, cut off and discard excess fat if you’d like, and then slice the meat against the grain. Place the sliced brisket in a pan or pot, cover with the vegetables and sauce, and heat in a 350-degree oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.