Brisket with Saba, Apricots, and Figs

December 12, 2017
3 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

My dad always served this brisket front and center at Hanukkah. It's a crowd pleaser and feeds many. The juices are also a great dipping sauce for latkes. Saba can be hard to find, so while it lends the meat a characteristic sweetness, balsamic vinegar is a welcome substitute. —Valerio Farris

What You'll Need
  • 1 brisket (5-6 pounds)
  • 6 shallots, quartered
  • 2 large onions, 1/2 inch slices
  • 3 large carrots, 1 inch pieces
  • 5 celery stalks, 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 bunch herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage
  • peel of 1 orange, julienned
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 9 oz. jar of saba
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 12 dried apricots
  • 12 dried figs
  • 2 ounces whole almonds
  1. Place the brisket in a large baking dish. Add vegetables, herbs, orange peel and cinnamon. Coat evenly with the saba. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large roasting pan. Add vegetables from the marinade; cook for 5 minutes. Place the brisket in the roasting pan and sear over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the marinade (including cinnamon, orange peel and herbs). Deglaze with red wine.
  3. Add half of the chicken stock and salt & pepper. Place in the oven at 300° for 3 hours. Check after every hour and add more stock if needed until the brisket is fork tender. Add dried fruit and almonds, cover with aluminum foil and cook for 1 hour longer.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Natasha
  • Alexandra Harmer
    Alexandra Harmer
  • Tasha
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.

4 Reviews

Alexandra H. April 9, 2023
I am certainly not a newbie at making brisket, nor at cooking in general, and was a bit concerned about cooking the meat for 3 hours, uncovered, but I thought "what do I know?!" and followed the steps to the letter. The smell in my kitchen was divine (I even special ordered a bottle of Saba and was so happy I did) but what resulted was a beautifully flavored piece of shoe leather. Truly it was nearly inedible - thank goodness for sharp steak knives, plenty of other dishes to fill up on, and forgiving relatives. Perhaps there is something that I was supposed to do differently, e.g. perhaps "large roasting pan" really should have read "a large roasting pan but not one so large that the liquid doesn't at least very nearly cover the meat"...? But I am finding that this is the issue with Food52 recipes in general: there is not enough direction to assist the home cook with avoiding some of the potential pitfalls of the process, nor answers to the myriad questions that inevitably come up while cooking that one must simply guess the answers to (sometimes with disastrous consequences), e.g. how would one know more broth was needed during the cooking process? At what level would I have needed to see it reduced to to need to add more (or not add it)?? - I added it anyway, more liquid is not bed when cooking such cuts of meat, OR when you marinade the meat: should the veggies be under the meat? surrounding it? What about the onions herbs and orange peel? If I chose to add the onions on top, is it okay that they are soaked in Saba or do you really just want to coat the meat in Saba? Does it matter? To me, a solid recipe contains such answers, notes, and tips (I simply don't have the time - as most home cooks don't these days I think- to test recipes in my own kitchen again and again until I can produce the same perfect result as what I assume the writer of said recipe expects you to produce) and the lack of which is the reason I will be steering clear of Food52 recipes in general - this is not the first time I have been burned. If you want an absolutely fool proof method for making brisket - head over to Smitten Kitchen (I have no affiliation with the site or author, FYI) - it's perfect, every time.
Natasha April 2, 2018
What is saba? What are its ingredients? Thanks!
Tasha December 20, 2017
I just happened to re-read the recipe and see that it's been re-ordered to describe searing the meat before adding the marinade to the pan. Thanks for the update!
Tasha December 13, 2017
Thanks for this intriguing recipe. I'd like to try it out, but have a question about the searing step. My understanding of searing is that it's usually done in an only slightly moist environment (typically with oil). In this case, you're adding two cups of red wine first, and the veggies appear to stay put in the pot as well. Is the wine supposed to reduce to the point where the meat and veggies actually sear? Or, is everything braising in the wine? Sorry for my confusion. I have just enough cooking experience to be dangerous. Any clarification appreciated!