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Roasted Brisket of Beef Stuffed with Figs

1/2 cup chopped dried figs or prunes (3 ounces)
1/4 cup brandy
1 large leek, white and pale green part only, or 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small pear, cored and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons fine matzo crumbs
1 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2- to 2 1/2-pound beef brisket
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place dried fruit and brandy in a small saucepan, then place over low heat just until hot -- do not boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes until the fruit is plumped and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the leek or onion in 2 teaspoons of olive oil until tender. Add any remaining brandy from soaking fruit, pear and garlic, cook and stir until tender. Add plumped fruit to pear mixture along with pecans, matzo crumbs, lemon peel, thyme and pepper.

Cut a lengthwise slit down the center but not through the bottom of the beef brisket; spread open. Pound entire surface lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet until about 1/2-inch thick. Season lightly with additional salt and pepper. Spread fruit mixture over meat to within 1/2 inch of edges. Starting from a long edge, roll up meat and fruit mixture; tie with string at 1-inch intervals.

Brown meat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake at 375 degrees about 40 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted near the meat's center registers 140 degrees. Transfer to a platter; cover with foil.

Let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving -- temperature will rise 5 degrees during standing. Take off string before slicing to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, December 10, 2000

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