Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes
Adapted very liberally from Bon Appetit
1 4-to 4 1/2-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) beef brisket, trimmed of most fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
1 cup Merlot, or other full-bodied dry red wine
2 pounds onions, sliced
4 medium carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
1 lb fingerling potatoes
16 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups pitted large prunes (about 8 oz)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Pat brisket dry; sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy extra-large dutch oven, or the cocotte, over high heat. Add brisket and cook until deep brown, about 7 minutes per side. Set the meat aside and brown the onions, carrots and potatoes for a few minutes. Pull them out of the cocotte and place the meat back in there. Add tomatoes with juice and wine to skillet. Distribute onions, carrots, potatoes and garlic around brisket. Add prunes and thyme; drizzle with pomegranate molasses, honey (or maple syrup) and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and place the cocotte in the oven and braise for about 3 hours 15 minutes.
Serve with the vegetables while hot, and garnished with parsley, or let rest for an hour and serve at room temperature.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with foil and chill. Bring just to simmer when reheating.
How to know the brisket is done? Try inserting a turkey lacer into the thickest part of the brisket. If it meets no resistance, your brisket is done.