Braised Brisket with Mushroom Onion Gravy
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 cups water
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups dry red wine
1 brisket (3 pounds), trimmed of visible fat
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
INSTRUCTIONS: Place the mushrooms in a small bowl. Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand for 30 minutes to soften.
Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid, squeezing as much liquid as possible back into the bowl. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.
Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or 2 layers of cheesecloth. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until translucent.
Reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the onions begin to brown, stirring from time to time.
Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the onions turn a deep golden brown.
Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits in the pot. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same Dutch oven over high heat. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Brown well on all sides. Transfer the meat to a platter.
Add the mushroom-soaking liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.
Return the brisket to the pot, along with the onion-wine mixture, the remaining 3 cups water, the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
Tightly cover the pan. Place in the oven and cook for about 3 hours, until the brisket is very tender.
Transfer the meat to a platter and tent with foil.
Remove the bay leaves from the cooking liquid. Working in batches, puree the cooking liquid in a processor until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan. Adjust seasoning and rewarm, if necessary.
Cut the brisket across the grain into thin slices. Arrange on a platter. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
Serves 6 to 8.