Brisket and Kugel

I am a pretty decent baker, but I don't cook meat very often and in fact I find it kind of intimidating, which is funny since a lot of people are intimidated by baking and it has never phased me.  So I decided to make brisket for a dinner with some friends.  It seemed straightforward, but required some advance notice.
First off, the night before cooking there is a spice rub for the brisket that sits overnight.
You may be noticing the brisket is very pink. That is because the grocery store only had corned beef (which is brined brisket). I had my heart set on brisket though and I figured the brining would only add more flavor.

Brisket needs to be cooked for 3+ hours so it gets very tender. In addition to the spice rub this recipe had apricots, leeks, herbs, and red wine. It called for fresh thyme, but I used thyme, rosemary, and oregano.

After it cooks for three hours, it is really tender.  A great thing about this recipe is that once it is cooked, you can slice it and refrigerate it and just reheat it.  That is super useful when you're cooking for guests, because what usually happens to me is I try for too complicated a meal and end up in the kitchen rather than hanging out with my guests.

The meat was super tender and very flavorful.  You could taste a little of the brining from the corned beef, but it wasn't overpowering.  The recipe called for using the cooking liquids to make a proper gravy, but I didn't leave enough time, so I just mashed up the bits in it til it was smooth and served it with that.

I served the brisket with some roasted asparagus (in olive oil and a little salt for 15 min in a 350 degree oven) and individual onion kugels.  Overall I was super happy with my brisket.

Spiced Brisket with Apricots

2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-pound flat-cut (first-cut) brisket, well-trimmed

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
24 whole dried apricots, divided
10 garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Turkish bay leaves
2 cups dry red wine

1. Stir first 8 ingredients in small bowl. Arrange brisket in large roasting pan; spread spice mixture evenly over both sides. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat broiler. Uncover brisket. Broil until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Turn brisket fat side up in pan.
3. Set oven temperature to 325°F. Sprinkle leeks, onion, 12 apricots, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves around brisket. Pour wine over. Cover pan with heavy-duty foil and bake brisket until tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Uncover; cool 1 1/2 hours.
4. Transfer brisket to work surface. Thinly slice brisket across grain on slight diagonal; overlap slices in 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Blend liquid smooth and pour over brisket. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover brisket and chill.) Rewarm covered brisket in 350°F oven 30 minutes or 45 minutes if chilled.

Individual Kugels

6 ounces medium egg noodles (1 3/4 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3 cups chopped onions (2 large)
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/4 cups small-curd cottage cheese (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cook noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, then drain well.
3. Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat and brush muffin cups with some of butter. Add onions to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a large bowl and stir in noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese, and poppy seeds. Lightly beat eggs with salt and pepper, then stir into noodle mixture until combined well.
4. Divide mixture among muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of kugels with a thin knife and cool kugels in pan 5 minutes before serving.
From Epicurious (Brisket, Kugel
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