Tamarind Brisket

Tamarind is a tree that is indigenous to Africa and produces a brown, pea pod shaped fruit that has a brown, edible pulp on the inside. This is the flavor that provides the fruity, somewhat subdued, and tarty flavor that contrasts with the hearty character of the meat to make a mouthwatering brisket! 


  • 5 pounds of first‐cut brisket, trimmed of any excess fat
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed, skins removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3‐4 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind puree
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock

Preheat oven to 325°.

Pat brisket dry and salt liberally on both sides. If using kosher meat, do not salt – meat has already been amply salted.

Put your largest, deepest sauté pan (preferably oven‐safe) over medium‐high heat. Using sturdy kitchen tongs, transfer brisket to pan and sear, undisturbed, for 4‐5 minutes, until underside develops browned crust. Turn brisket and cook 3‐4 minutes more on second side, until similarly seared. If pan is oven‐safe, transfer brisket to a plate. If pan is not oven‐safe, transfer brisket to 9x13 oven‐safe pan and set aside.

Pour off any fat that has accumulated in pan, but reserve fond (brown bits, where all the flavor resides). Reduce heat to medium, add olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add onions, leeks, carrots, and celery, and sauté until onions are translucent, about 4‐5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add garlic and sauté about 3 minutes more. Add bay leaves and herbs, sauté two minutes more, and transfer vegetables to plate or pan holding brisket.

Raise the heat to medium‐high. Add a splash of wine to pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of wine, tamarind puree, tomato puree, and beef stock, and cook on medium‐high heat until well‐mixed, about 5 minutes.

Transfer brisket, vegetables, and braising liquid (if necessary) to oven‐safe pan. Braise covered at 325 for 3 hours, or until soft and tender. At the 1‐hour mark, taste sauce and correct for salt and seasoning. When brisket is through cooking, remove pan from oven and allow brisket to rest at room temperature approximately 20‐30 minutes. Slice against the grain.

By Rivka Friedman