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For an elegant weeknight dinner, prepare this Italian-style braised brisket with almond caper gremolata. The fall-apart tender beef with tangy herb sauce will surely satisfy you and your guests!
What makes this dish special
I enjoy a steak every now and again but I personally prefer braised beef a tad more. I just can't resist slowly cooked, fall-apart tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat swimming in a flavorful broth. So you know when I prepared this Italian-style braised brisket with almond caper gremolata, I had to go for seconds. There's so much flavor coming from the seasoning rub on the brisket to the reduced braising liquid to the finishing herb sauce.
People are intimated to make brisket but really all you need is some patience. The trick is to just let it slowly cook in the oven until it becomes incredibly tender. And that means you have time to prepare the other sides such as brown butter mashed sweet potatoes or cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts. So when you think about it, it's really a win-win situation, right?
- Brisket: While brisket works wonderfully for this recipe, you can experiment with other cuts like chuck roast. Just ensure it's a cut that benefits from slow braising. If you're having trouble sourcing brisket, you can order from Snake River Farms, which is where I purchased my meat.
- Anchovies: Anchovies add depth of flavor without being distinctly fishy. If you're not a fan, you can omit them, but they contribute to the overall richness of the dish.
- Tomato paste: Concentrated, thick paste made from tomatoes, providing an intense tomato flavor.
- Red wine: Adds another layer of flavor and depth. Beef or vegetable broth can be used as a non-alcoholic substitute.
- Balsamic vinegar: Dark, sweet-sour vinegar originating from Italy, made from pressed grape juice. Adds a touch of sweetness and tartness to the braising liquid.
- Worcestershire: A fermented liquid condiment with a complex flavor profile, used to add depth and umami to the brisket.
- Almonds: Adds a mildly sweet, rich, and buttery flavor to the gremolata. You can substitute almonds for another nut such as pine nuts or walnuts if you prefer.
- Capers: Flower buds of the caper bush, usually pickled in brine or vinegar, offering a tangy, salty flavor. Substitute with chopped green olives if you cannot find capers.
How to make Italian-style braised brisket
Step 1: Marinate brisket
To incorporate as much flavor as possible, we're going to first quickly marinate the brisket. Combine anchovies, shallots, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until you have a paste. Alternatively, chop all of the ingredients by hand and mix them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Now I know there are a lot of people who don't like anchovies, but I can assure you, that you won't taste any fish in the finishing product. Rather, the anchovies add umami and help season the beef. I highly encourage you to use this ingredient for this Italian-style braised brisket.
Rub the marinade evenly on all sides of the brisket and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
I purchased my brisket from Snake River Farms which also offers Wagyu brisket for a fancier option. You can also substitute it with a chuck roast instead. Chuck roast is a less expensive option that will still yield excellent results.
Step 2: Braise
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium heat. If you have neither, you can also prepare the braising liquid in a regular pot and transfer all of the ingredients into a baking dish.
Lightly sear the brisket just enough to caramelize the outside. Don't worry if some of the paste sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Remove the brisket and set it aside while you saute the onions and carrots. Place a lid on the pot to help sweat the vegetables, then, add the tomato paste, stirring to coat. Add the red wine and bring the liquid to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan while the red wine cooks, scraping up any caramelized bits.
If you rather skip the red wine, substitute it with more beef stock instead.
Add the brisket back to the pot along with the remaining ingredients and continue braising in the oven.
Step 3: Make almond caper gremolata
While the brisket is cooking, make the almond caper gremolata. The Italian-style braised brisket will still be delicious without the gremolata but the sauce will add another element to the dish. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and season the gremolata with salt and pepper. It's best to let it sit for at least 30 minutes; feel free to make the sauce the day before.
Check the brisket after about 2 hours to see if the meat falls apart easily. If there's still some resistance, continue cooking the meat for another 30 minutes.
Step 4: Serve
When ready, remove the brisket from the oven and spoon some of the almond caper gremolata on top. Slice the meat and serve it with extra gremolata on the side. I like to also sprinkle finishing Maldon salt on top for just a little extra oomph.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can never go wrong with brisket especially when it's properly made. This Italian-style braised brisket is incredibly tender while every bite is oozing with umami. The almond caper gremolata provides a bit of acid and freshness to the more decadent beef, the perfect pairing. A fantastic meal for a special occasion or just a regular weeknight dinner.
Frequently asked questions
The gremolata adds brightness to the rich flavors. While not strictly necessary, it enhances the dish. You can adjust the quantities or omit certain ingredients based on personal preference.
Aim for slices that are about ¼ to ½ inch thick. This thickness preserves the tenderness of the meat while making it easy to serve.
Yes, braised dishes often improve with time. You can make it a day ahead, let it cool, refrigerate, and gently reheat before serving.
Serve this Italian-style braised brisket with roasted vegetable side dishes, grains, or a delicious salad. Here are some of my favorite pairings:
Italian Style Braised Brisket
Italian style braised brisket
- 4 lb brisket
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 shallots
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons anchovies
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire
- 1 bay leaf
Almond caper gremolata
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup toasted chopped almonds
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 garlic clove minced
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with garlic cloves, shallots, rosemary, thyme, anchovies, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse ingredients until they turn into a paste. Rub paste onto brisket, making sure to cover all sides. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Lightly sear brisket on all sides, lightly caramelizing rub onto the meat. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pot, heat another tablespoon oil. Add chopped onion and carrots and cover the pot. Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to soften. Remove lid and add tomato paste, stirring to coat. Add wine and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 1 minute.
- Add back brisket to pot along with beef broth, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire, and lay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot. Continue cooking in the oven for 2 ½ hours or until beef falls apart easily.
- Meanwhile, make gremolata. Combine chopped parsley with olive oil, almonds, capers, lemon juice and zest, and garlic in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove brisket from the oven and spoon gremolata on top. Serve with additional gremolata on the side.