By Edward Schneider
OK, it’s two days later. Time for more leftover boiled brisket, this time in the form of miroton. Like ropa vieja, miroton contains onions and takes advantage of both the meat and the broth it generated when it was simmered. Other than that, they could hardly be less alike.
Ropa vieja uses shredded meat, one of whose virtues is that it’s slightly chewy. For miroton (etymology unclear, by the way), you slice the meat thin across the grain, as though you were going to make a sandwich; one of its virtues is that it is very tender. In ropa vieja there are several vegetables; none predominate. Onions are (almost) the main ingredient in miroton; one could probably make a plausible version without the meat, not that I’d want to try. While ropa vieja doesn’t need an acidic element (a dash of something sour doesn’t hurt, though), miroton requires vinegar, enough to make you cough as you add it to the onions.
In other words, the post-boiled-beef progression from one to the next needn’t be done out of a sense of duty: you’re getting two very different dinners out of the same meat and broth.
But what is this miroton? It is thinly sliced boiled beef layered with a vinegary onion sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and baked until crisp on top and bubbly hot throughout. Here’s how to make it.
For six ounces thinly sliced boiled brisket, trimmed of some exterior fat, slowly cook two medium onions, sliced and lightly salted, in a good ounce of butter. When they’re translucent and completely tender, stir in a heaping tablespoon of flour and cook for two or three minutes, still over low heat. You are making a roux. Now stir in two tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used a delicious Spanish moscatel vinegar); the mess in the pan will be very thick as the flour absorbs this first hit of liquid. Add a generous cup of broth from the boiled beef (or if you’ve lost it, some veal or beef stock) and salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes, until sauce-thick and without any floury taste. Some people add mushrooms (a bad idea) or sliced cornichons (a possibility).
You can do this an hour or a day in advance.
When dinner hour approaches, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and make some mashed potatoes. Reheat the onions / sauce – you can add chopped parsley if you like – taste it very carefully for seasoning (that vinegar must be counterbalanced) and spoon some into a buttered baking dish. Then a layer of sliced beef, then more sauce; repeat until everything has been used. Sprinkle with crumbs made from good bread. Drizzle these with a very little butter and bake until the crumbs are brown and the whole dish bubbling hot – too hot to eat right away, in fact.
Miroton is something to look forward to from the moment you start thinking about boiling a big piece of beef. Then again, so is ropa vieja. So make sure you have plenty of leftovers.