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An Autumn Uncure

October 26, 1995|DONNA DEANE

When the weather turns a bit cooler, we often think of cooking up a corned beef dinner. But, strangely, we may forget about fresh beef brisket. It's the same cut as corned beef--boneless and wonderfully rich. The only difference is that it has not been cured.

In this recipe, the fresh beef is cooked in much the same way corned beef would be, simmered for a long time with some fresh herbs and vegetables. After it reaches the fork-tender stage, remove it from the broth, separate the two pieces of meat and trim off the excess fat. Spread horseradish mustard for an extra kick over the top of each piece of meat, then sprinkle with garlic-buttered bread crumbs and broil just until golden brown. Slice it as you would corned beef.

Accompany the brisket with a fall poached pear salad with blue cheese and toasted walnuts and golden potatoes au gratin.

MENU

Poached Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Fresh Beef Brisket Dijonnaise

Potatoes au Gratin

STAPLES

1 onion

2 carrots

2 heads garlic

Bay leaf

Peppercorns

Salt

Butter

3 baking potatoes

Flour

Milk

Eggs

Sugar

Olive oil

SHOPPING LIST

1 (4- to 5-pound) beef brisket

1 bunch thyme

1 (8-ounce) jar horseradish mustard

Small baguette for bread crumbs

1 bunch assorted herbs

1 leek

1 (1/4-pound) piece Swiss Gruyere cheese

3 lemons

4 ripe pears

8 cups mixed baby romaine leaves

1 (1/4-pound) wedge of blue cheese

1 cup walnut halves

GAME PLAN

1 Day Before: Cook brisket and refrigerate. Poach pears and refrigerate.

Afternoon of Dinner: Prepare potatoes au gratin. Prepare walnuts for salads. Prepare bread crumb mixture for brisket.

1 Hour Before: Reheat beef brisket.

45 Minutes Before: Bake potatoes. Prepare brisket for broiling.

30 Minutes Before: Put brisket under broiler to brown. Prepare salads.

FRESH BEEF BRISKET DIJONNAISE

1 (4- to 5-pound) whole beef brisket

Water

1 onion, quartered

2 carrots, cut up

1 head garlic, cut in half

2 branches fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

8 peppercorns

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup horseradish mustard

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 teaspoon mixed fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, sage)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon melted butter

Salt

Cover brisket with water in large stockpot. Add onion, carrots, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 hours, until brisket is fork tender. Add additional water as needed. Remove from broth. Separate brisket into 2 parts by cutting top off where it naturally separates. Remove excess fat from outside of each piece of meat.

Spread about 2 tablespoons mustard over top of each piece of meat. Combine bread crumbs, mixed herbs, garlic, melted butter and salt to taste. Sprinkle over top of each piece of meat to cover. Place on broiler pan and broil until top begins to brown. Remove from pan and slice on the diagonal as you would for corned beef.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

320 calories; 1,291 mg sodium; 110 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 36 grams protein; 0.36 gram fiber.

POTATOES AU GRATIN

3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut in half

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup chopped leeks

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

1 egg, beaten

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Simmer potatoes in boiling salted water just until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and cool.

In medium saucepan heat butter until melted. Add leeks and garlic and saute until tender. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to simmering, stirring occasionally. Simmer, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add a little hot milk to egg and mix well. Then stir egg combination back into sauce. Heat and stir just until slightly thickened. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese.

Cut cooled potatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange in bottom of 9-inch round baking dish. Pour sauce evenly over potatoes in baking dish. Sprinkle over remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Put on baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and hot in center.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

191 calories; 138 mg sodium; 58 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.43 gram fiber.

POACHED PEAR AND BLUE CHEESE SALAD 1 quart water

2 cups sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

4 pears, peeled, cut in half and cored

8 cups mixed baby romaine leaves

1 (1/4 pound) wedge blue cheese

1 cup toasted salted walnut halves

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Bring water and sugar to simmer in saucepan. Add lemon zest and pear halves. Return to simmer. Cover and simmer just until pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool in syrup for several hours or refrigerate overnight.

Drain pears on paper towel. To serve, divide greens among 8 salad plates. Top each with pear half. Use small ice cream scoop to make blue cheese balls or shape by hand and place one in center of each pear half. Sprinkle walnuts around pear on greens. Let each person drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil before eating.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

359 calories; 55 mg sodium; 3 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 67 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 2.25 grams fiber.

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