Medjool dates will disintegrate into the sauce, while honey dates will stay firmer: The choice of which to use is a matter of personal preference.
Brisket with Dates
One 7-pound (3.5 kg) brisket
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
4 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges, about 4 cups
4 celery sticks, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 head of garlic, halved widthwise
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne
2 cups red wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups pitted and quartered dates or to taste
2 tbsp chopped cilantro, optional
Preheat oven to 275 F.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and add oil. Add meat, fat side down, and brown well all over, about 4 to 5 minutes a side. Remove from pan and reserve. Add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pan. Sauté until a golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne and toss to coat, about 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to an oven-proof baking dish (I use a big roasting pan) and top with meat.
Pour wine into frying pan, bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits, and boil for 2 minutes or until slightly reduced. Stir in stock and tomato paste and pour over meat. Cover with a lid.
Bake for 3 hours or until meat is tender with a little resistance to the fork. Stir in dates. Cover and cook another 45 minutes to an hour or until meat is fork tender. Cool and then remove meat to a clean baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until meat is firm. Refrigerate sauce for 2 hours or until the fat has solidified on the top of the sauce. (I usually leave it overnight.)
Skim fat from the sauce and discard.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Transfer meat to oven for 15 minutes or until heated through and browned. Place meat on carving board and slice thinly or thickly according to preference.
Reheat sauce over medium heat or until heated through. Place meat on a serving dish and coat with sauce. Garnish with cilantro.