Prep time: About 1 hour
Slow cooker time: About 8 hours
Pomegranate molasses and seeds add seasonal flair and a fresh, sweet-tart taste to this brisket, ideal for the Jewish holidays and other special occasions. Prepare this dish a day or two in advance to allow the flavors to meld and the meat to become more tender and flavorful.
This recipe appears in my newest cookbook, Year-Round Slow Cooker: 100 Favorite Recipes for Every Season (The Taunton Press, 2013).
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon coarse salt
8 grinds black pepper
One 3-pound beef brisket
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 red onions, halved and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup red wine, such as Zinfandel
One 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
1⁄2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1⁄4 cup fresh-squeezed, strained orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
3⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds, at room temperature, for garnish
1. Put 1⁄4 cup of the pomegranate molasses, the mustard, garlic, coriander, salt and pepper in the slow cooker and use a wooden spoon to mix well. Add the meat and turn to coat with the mixture (use your fingers to smear the mixture all over the meat).
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, limp, and sweet, about 20 minutes (discard any strips of red onion skin that separate from the flesh). Pour the onions on top of the meat.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, plus the tomato paste and flour to the pan. Stir until no white flour is visible, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the wine; return the pan to the heat, raise the heat to high, and simmer for about 2 minutes, whisking into a smooth, thick sauce. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, the tomatoes with juices, stock, orange juice, and honey, and use a potato masher to gently mash the tomatoes. Boil until smooth and relatively thick, about 4 minutes, then pour over the meat-onion mixture.
4. Cover and cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Carefully transfer the meat to a cutting board, and let rest for about 10 minutes. With a large shallow spoon or ladle, skim the fat off the top of the cooking juices. Cut the meat against the grain into roughly 1⁄3-inch-thick slices, mix it back into the sauce, and serve, garnished with the pomegranate seeds.
Spotlight on Pomergranates
Pomegranates are large, hard, pink or red round fruits. You only eat their arils, pulp-encased seeds that resemble rubies and boast a sweet-tart berry flavor.
To remove the arils, halve the pomegranate horizontally, place it in a large water-filled bowl, and pull the arils out from the bitter white membranes. You can also thwack the backside of each half with your fist to knock out some arils; these will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or purchase already-removed arils, which I find to be worth the extra price. Follow the use-by date on the package for freshness.
If you buy whole pomegranates, look for heavy, firm, brightly colored fruits. Store them in the fridge for up to 2 months or in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.