Author pho­to by Lisa Rich

Back­ground pho­to of figs by Tetiana Padurets on Unsplash

Fig and Pome­gran­ate Brisket

Serves 8 to 10
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time (Includ­ing chill­ing time): 13 hours

Con­sid­ered one of the crown jew­els of Shab­bat and hol­i­day cook­ing, brisket has decid­ed­ly hum­ble begin­nings. Inex­pen­sive due to its tough­ness and orig­i­nal­ly con­sid­ered a throw­away cut, brisket became a sta­ple of cold-weath­er East­er Euro­pean Jew­ish cook­ing when farm­ers real­ized it was less expen­sive to butch­er a cow than to feed it all win­ter long. Home cooks became experts at slow-cook­ing brisket to ten­der per­fec­tion, adding onions and often a toma­to-based liq­uid to coax out the meat’s fla­vor and ide­al tex­ture. Aside from my mother’s recipe (see page 283), this is the ver­sion I find myself mak­ing the most. Tons of gar­lic and onions, white wine, and two types each of figs (fresh and dried) and pome­gran­ate (molasses and fresh seeds) come togeth­er for a fin­ished brisket that is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly homey and ele­gant. Brisket is always bet­ter served the next day; if you have time, cool the whole cut in its brais­ing liq­uid, then slice it against the grain and re-warm gen­tly in the sauce.

One 5‑pound brisket with a good amount of fat
1 table­spoon plus 1 tea­spoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 1/2 tea­spoons fresh­ly ground black pep­per, plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup veg­etable oil 3 large onions, thin­ly sliced (6 cups)
2 table­spoons all‑purpose or gluten-free flour
10 gar­lic cloves, peeled and left whole
2 table­spoons toma­to paste
2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups beef or chick­en broth
1/3 cup pome­gran­ate molasses
4 dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tea­spoons red wine vinegar
1 table­spoon ground cumin
1 tea­spoon dried red pep­per flakes
6 fresh figs,* quartered
1/2 cup pome­gran­ate seeds
Mint leaves, for garnish

  1. Pre­heat the oven to 300°F
  2. Arrange the brisket on a large plate and sea­son it gen­er­ous­ly on all sides with 1 table­spoon of the salt and 1 tea­spoon of the pep­per. In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat the oil over medi­um-high heat until very hot but not smok­ing. Add the brisket (fat­ti­er side down, if there is one) and sear until deeply browned and crisped in parts, 6 to 7 min­utes. Care­ful­ly flip the brisket and sear for anoth­er 6 min­utes, then, if they’re thick enough, sear each of the nar­row sides, stand­ing up the brisket, if pos­si­ble, 3 min­utes per side. Remove to a plate, leav­ing any fat and juices in the pan.
  3. Add the onions and flour and cook, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly, until the flour is absorbed, 1 min­utes, then add the gar­lic and toma­to paste and cook, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly, until the onions begin to soft­en, 5 min­utes. Add the wine, raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and sim­mer until the wine reduces by half, 4 to 5 min­utes. Add the broth, pome­gran­ate molasses, dried figs, hon­ey, vine­gar, cumin, red pep­per flakes, and the remain­ing 1 tea­spoon salt and 1/2 tea­spoon black pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a sim­mer and gen­tly low­er the brisket back into the roast­ing pan, spoon­ing some of the sauce and onions over the brisket. Cov­er the brisket with a piece of parch­ment paper (this will pre­vent the acid in the sauce from inter­act­ing with the foil), seal the roast­ing pan tight­ly with foil, and cook in the oven until the brisket is ten­der, 4 hours to 4 hours 30 min­utes. Remove the oven, unseal slight­ly, then let the brisket come to room tem­per­a­ture, about 1 hour.
  5. If you have time, refrig­er­ate the brisket overnight, then uncov­er it and remove and dis­card the con­gealed fat. Remove the brisket from the sauce and slice it against the grain into 1/4‑inch-thick slices. Heat the sauce in the roast­ing pan or anoth­er pot over medi­um-high heat, until boil­ing. Low­er the heat and sim­mer until the sauce thick­ens to your lik­ing, 10 to 15 min­utes. Nes­tle the sliced brisket back in the sauce, cov­er with foil, and warm gen­tly in a 200 degree oven until every­thing is heat­ed through, 45 min­utes to 1 hour.
  6. To serve, trans­fer the brisket and sauce to a plat­ter, sea­son with salt and pep­per, and gar­nish with fresh figs, pome­gran­ate seeds, and mint leaves.

*If you can’t find fresh figs, gar­nish with more pome­gran­ate seeds.

Pho­to cour­tesy of the publisher

From Shab­bat by Adeena Suss­man, pub­lished by Avery, an imprint of Pen­guin Pub­lish­ing Group, a divi­sion of Pen­guin Ran­dom House, LLC. Copy­right @ 2023 by Adeena Sussman

Adeena Suss­man is the author of Saba­ba: Fresh, Sun­ny Fla­vors From My Israeli Kitchen, which was named a Best Fall cook­book by The New York Times, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine. She is cur­rent­ly work­ing on her fol­lowup to Saba­ba, Shab­bat: Recipes and Rit­u­als From My Table To Yours. The co-author of 15 cook­books, Adeena’s three most recent col­lab­o­ra­tions, includ­ing Crav­ings and Crav­ings: Hun­gry For More with Chris­sy Teigen, were New York Times Best-sell­ers. A life­long vis­i­tor to Israel who has been writ­ing about that country’s food cul­ture for almost 20 years, Adeena made Aliyah in Decem­ber 2018. She cooks and writes in Tel Aviv, where she lives in the shad­ow of that city’s Carmel Mar­ket with her hus­band, Jay Shofet. You can fol­low her on Insta­gram @adeenasussman.