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Robert May's Braised Brisket

April 2019

Chef Claudio Foschi at America Eats Tavern adapted this 1660 recipe using short ribs for the restaurant’s collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library and its “First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas” exhibit. Robert May’s book “The Accomplisht Cook” was the most extensive recipe collection to appear in print in England at the time and helped to introduce English people to Continental cuisine.

Ingredients

2 pounds brisket
2 cups sliced yellow onion
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
¼ teaspoon mace
1 750ml bottle red wine (like Cabernet Sauvignon)
4 cups sliced cabbage
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
½ baguette or other bread

Directions
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Pat the brisket dry and then place it in a large pot fitted with a cover. Add onions, salt, black peppercorns, whole cloves, and mace. Pour in wine, cover, and place in the oven for 1 hour. After the brisket has cooked for 1 hour, carefully flip it over. After it has cooked for 1 ½ hours, add cabbage, vinegar, and capers. Check it at the 2 ½ hour mark. It should be tender when poked with a fork. If not, give it more time. If the cabbage is crowded, re-arrange as necessary for even cooking. To serve, cut your bread into cubes and arrange them on a platter. Remove the brisket and set it on a cutting board to rest. Remove the cabbage and onions and place them on top of the bread. Reduce remaining cooking liquid for ten minutes until it thickens. Slice the brisket thinly, and place on top of the cabbage, onions, and bread. Pour the reduced sauce over the whole dish. Serve immediately.

Notes

This satisfying dish will serve 4-6 people. The cubes of bread that May calls “sippets” are a common ingredient in meat dishes from this period. They efficiently and deliciously soak up the rich, flavorful sauce.

Credits

Recipe adaptation by Marissa Nicosia (www.rarecooking.com), based on a recipe from Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook.