Moroccan Brisket with Olives, Tomatoes, Onions, and Preserved Lemons

Total Time:
4 hr 38 min
35 min
3 min
4 hr

10 to 12 servings

  • 5 to 6-pound beef brisket
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large onions, diced (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups green Moroccan olives, pitted
  • 2 to 3 preserved lemons, diced, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Classic Moroccan Method for Preserving Lemons in Salt:
  • 12 to 15 lemons
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  • With a knife, pierce the skin of the brisket in 5 places and insert the garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy skillet or roasting pan, add the meat, sear on all sides and remove.

  • Add 2 more tablespoons of the oil to the same pan and saute 3/4 of the onions (about 6 cups) until they are limp. Add the turmeric, ginger, white pepper, bay leaves, celery, 1/3 of the diced tomatoes, and water to the pan. Stir-fry a minute or 2 and let cool.

  • Place the brisket in a baking pan and surround with the cooked vegetables. Roast, covered, in the oven for 3 hours or until a fork goes in and out of the meat easily. Remove, cool and refrigerate, reserving the vegetables. You can prepare this a day ahead of time.

  • Tomato-Onion Sauce: Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the frying pan; add the remaining onions and saute until onions are translucent. Then add the remaining diced tomatoes and simmer, covered, for a few minutes. Set aside or refrigerate overnight or until ready to serve the meat.

  • When ready to serve, remove any fat that accumulated on the brisket as it cooled. Cut, against the grain, into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Return the slices to the baking pan along with the reserved vegetables in which the meat was cooked. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and reheat the brisket, covered, for about 30 minutes.

  • Add to the tomato-onion mixture, olives, preserved lemons and 2 tablespoons each of parsley and cilantro and heat in small saucepan. Remove the brisket and some, or all, of the vegetables to a serving platter and serve, covered with the tomato-onion sauce and garnished with the remaining parsley and cilantro.

Classic Moroccan Method for Preserving Lemons in Salt:
  • Cut 7 of the lemons lengthwise, almost into quarters, leaving them intact at one end. You can also slice them thin.

  • Using your fingers, stuff as much salt as possible inside the lemons, close them, and place in sterilized wide-mouth 2 quart jar. Squeeze the juice of at least 4 lemons into the jar. Allow to stand, half covered, at least 1 week on the counter, shaking the bottle each day, or until the peels sink with the weight of the salt in the jar. Then add a few more salted lemons, lemon juice, and, if you like, olive oil to cover.

  • Close the jar and leave out on the counter for at least 3 weeks before using. When using the lemons, merely rinse with water, remove the seeds, and chop up for your recipes. Refrigerate after opening.

  • Yield: 7 to 10 preserved lemons

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