Autumn is supposed to mean change. Trees grow anemic as their leaves depart in brilliant colors, days get darker, and the general mood is meant to shift to cold.And in most of our cities, it does. Current temperatures read as such:New York City: 66 degreesBoston: 67 degreesSt. Paul: 63 degreesChicago: 65 degreesBut here in South Florida, the weathervane is buzzed from too much sun. While we did dip down to 88 degrees, the heat index bumped us up to a defiant 101 degrees. It seems that in the Sunshine State there are no signs of leaves falling or fireplaces crackling, and the only pumpkins we see are the ones rotting in the sun in the few undeveloped lots forgotten between rows and rows of strip malls.Heat index and all, I like what fall respresents and therefore trick myself into feeling the autumn cheer. And what better way to trick the mind than through food? Cooler days beg for heartier meals. The swift and simple summer dishes are replaced by a craving for something a little more substantial. Stews, soups, and anything swimming in lots of sauce always serve as nourishing, hearty fare.To welcome fall, even under current muggy Florida conditions, I like to make Brisket with Pomegranate Sauce. October is the season for the pomegranate, considered the current darling fruit of this country, not only for all its antioxidant properties, but more so for its tart and captivatingly rich flavor. Pomegranate has always had a tasty spot in my memory. I spent many a lazy afternoon under the pomegranate tree of my dear friend Raquel’s house in Venezuela, sharing secrets and munching away on endless amounts of bright red seeds that exploded with flavor. This dish serves as the perfect tango of tart and subtle, with an extra helping of sauce to go with it. Now this isn’t your two-second summer dish. Give this one the extra time it needs. Making it a day or two in advance always helps: the longer the meat sits, the tastier it gets. So, kick off your shoes, enjoy the cooler air (or a/c) and get started on your autumn cooking.
Braised Pot Roast with Pomegranates
(adapted from The New York Times Jewish Cookbook)
6 garlic cloves
15 fresh sage leaves or 2 tablespoons dry sage
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 pounds lean brisket of beef2 garlic cloves, slivered1 large onion, sliced4 cups chicken stock2 tablespoons soy sauce1 tablespoon Dijon mustard2 tablespoons tomato pastesalt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
Place the garlic cloves, sage, 6 tablespoons of oil, the vinegar, lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a food processor or blender. Process until all the ingredients are finely chopped.
Place meat in a roasting pan. With a knife, make slits in the meat and insert slivers of garlic. Pour marinade over the meat. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight.
The following day, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and sauté sliced onions until golden. Remove the meat from marinade and brown on all sides over high heat. Then add the marinade, chicken stock, 2 cups water, soy sauce, mustard, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 3 hours, until the meat is easily pierced with a fork. Remove the meat form the pan and cool.
Add pomegranate seeds to the sauce. Slice meat and return to the saucepan. Reheat gently.