I was prompted by this week’s article in the New York Times about the health benefits of fermented foods, and by the timing of the year — where there’s a brisket in almost every pot — (during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), to share this recipe with you. It’s my Pot Roast with Burnt Onions & Kimchee, first published in Radically Simple two years ago. It is an awesome dish that can be made with brisket, flanken, short ribs, or even beef cheeks. It may be a bit of a challenge for those of you who keep strictly Kosher (not sure about the availability of Kosher sake and Kosher kimchee) but short of that, this lusty dish fits the requirements of the holiday table very nicely. It is a gorgeous accompaniment to potato kugel and not at all bad with a tangle of bitter-edge broccoli rabe. It’s a little something “new” under the sun.
But perhaps the gastronomic benefits go way beyond its taste. According to Sandor Katz (author of “The Art of Fermentation”) in Jeff Gordinier’s fabulous article “Better Eating, Thanks to Bacteria” — Mr. Katz believes that bacteria caused by fermentation has not only changed the course of civilization but that “a diverse variety of probiotic bacteria in our guts” go a long way in keeping us very healthy. Quite honestly, I am not sure what happens to the inherent properties of kimchee when cooked so, if in doubt, eat a little uncooked kimchee as you go along.
Pot Roast with Burnt Onions & Kimchee
Try to find a thick second-cut brisket for the most luscious results, but a first-cut will also do nicely. Be sure to leave a 1/4-inch layer of fat on top. Kimchee, a fermented Korean vegetable slaw, is available in the refrigerated section of most Asian food markets.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds onions, very thinly sliced
1-1/4 cups sake
1 cup kimchee
1 fresh bay leaf
Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, brown the meat all over. Remove from the pot. Add the onions to the pot and cook over high heat until soft and very dark, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sake, scraping up browned bits. Scatter the kimchee over the onions; place the meat on top. Add another 1/2 cup of sake and the bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 2-1/2 hours. Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and boil 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup sake and salt and pepper. Slice the meat 1/4-inch think across the grain and return to the pot. Cover and simmer 30 minutes until the meat is tender. Discard the bay leaf. Serves 6 or more