Braised meat, cooked low-and-slow, is a wonderful thing to make in the winter. It warms the house all day, filling the space with its great aroma, and most of the long cooking time needed is inactive, so it gives the cook a bit of a break. Best of all, brisket only improves with time, so you can make it a day or two before you plan to serve it, then rewarm it shortly before you want to eat. Served with mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles or couscous.
For the ras el hanout:
1 teaspoon organic whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon organic ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon organic cinnamon
½ teaspoon organic cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon organic allspice
One 3-pound piece flat-cut beef brisket
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 yellow onions, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for serving (optional)
Make the ras el hanout. Toast the coriander seeds in a small, dry skillet until they are fragrant and a whiff of smoke is coming from the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle) and grind or pound to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and add the cumin, ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, and allspice and mix to combine.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Generously season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in your largest, heaviest frying pan over medium-high heat (a 12-inch cast iron works great, but you can also use a large Dutch oven or even a roasting pan spanning two burners). When the oil is shimmering, add the brisket; it should lay flat in the pan. (If your pan is not large enough, cut the brisket in half crosswise before browning and brown each piece separately). Brown the brisket, turning once, until deeply browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total. With tongs, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to soften and brown, about 4 minutes. Add the spice mixture and stir to coat the onions, then cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds more, then add the flour, stir so the flour is coating the onions, and cook for 30 seconds longer. Pour in the chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir to mix. Return the browned brisket and any juices to the pot. Cover the pan (if you’re doing this in a skillet or roasting pan, you can cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil; if using a Dutch oven, cover with the pot lid.
Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and add the carrots and chickpeas, then recover, return to the oven and cook 30 to 45 minutes more, until the brisket is fork-tender (literally—when you put a fork into it, the meat should shred easily). With tongs, transfer the meat to a cutting board and cut crosswise against the grains into thick slices. Transfer to a deep serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chickpeas and carrots to the same platter alongside the sliced meat. Bring the braising liquid to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by a quarter and glossy. Pour some of the braising liquid over the meat, and serve the rest in a gravy boat alongside. Sprinkle with parsley and flaky salt and serve.