Sometime in childhood, I learned to expect brisket on almost every holiday except for Thanksgiving. Even if we went to the home of one of my six aunts, we had brisket, usually pretty much the same as the ones my mother was making. There was one with Coca Cola, one with onion soup and practically a whole roll of aluminum foil, one with cranberry sauce, and several others.
I was sure there were only about 4 or 5 ways to make a brisket, and that my mother and my aunts knew them all and rotated recipes. As I and my many cousins got older, we often joked about the brisket and took friendly bets as to which kind would come out of the oven or if we could identify which kind when we walked in the house and smelled it!
Now, it’s more decades later than I care to admit, and still nothing says “holiday” like a brisket cooked to perfection. Hundreds of years and thousands of recipes have seen that cut of beef emerge from millions of ovens and even some barbecues and, more recently, smokers. It is sacrilegious to serve spicy smoked brisket on a holiday?
I am sure that some of the ancient recipes have, for the most part, disappeared and have been replaced by newer ones that are spicier, faster cooked or slower cooked, seasoned and marinated to perfection. There are more brisket recipes than one could fit into even a large cookbook and each region of the country cooks its briskets in a unique manner.
If you Google “brisket,” you get over 6 million hits — mostly recipes — to investigate. But, proudly, the second site that came up in my search (after Wikipedia) is “Beef Brisket — Jewish Cooking.” That says it all. We are the brisket mavens, the creator of all things brisket from time immemorial, and still, after so many years, nothing says holiday like a great brisket.
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One of the best aspects of making a holiday brisket is that you can make it in advance and freeze it. When the holiday comes, you can defrost and reheat. No one will know the difference. So get ahead of the holiday and find a cool rainy (we hope) day to make some Rosh Hashana Brisket well in advance of the fast approaching holiday.
Garlic and Herb Brisket (Meat)
This is a garlic lover’s dream!
1 (5 to 7 lb.) brisket, single or double, trimmed to 1/4-inch fat cap
3 to 4 heads of garlic, about 30 to 50 cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup. Dry red wine
3 to 4 cups beef stock, homemade is best, but use low sodium otherwise
4 to 5 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper to taste
If you are using heads of garlic (I prefer already peeled cloves), heat a small pot of water to boiling. While the water is heating, break apart the garlic cloves. Discard the center stem. Drop the garlic in the water and let it boil for about 30 to 45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean dishtowel to drain. Let cool for a few minutes and then you can easily peel the cloves.
Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Add the peeled garlic and shake the pan to coat the cloves with oil and heat them evenly. Let them cook until fragrant and just a hint of golden color shows. Pour the oil and the garlic into the bottom of a large roasting pan and distribute the garlic evenly around the pan.
Place the meat into the same skillet and sear on both sides, about 3-5minutes per side. Transfer the meat to the roasting pan.
Add the vinegar and wine and deglaze the pan. Add the thyme and stir, cooking for about 3-5 minutes. Add this liquid and the herbs to the roasting pan. Pour the broth over the brisket and season with a bit of pepper and salt if you like. Cover tightly and place in a 325 degree oven. Check the meat after about an hour and make sure the liquid is bubbling gently. If it is boiling too vigorously, turn the oven to 300. Re-cover tightly and place back in the oven. Check every 30 to 40 minutes, baste the meat as needed and add more broth or wine, if needed. Cook for 3 to 6 hours or until very tender.
For the Gravy:
Remove the meat to a large platter and then strain the liquid into a large saucepan. Discard the thyme. Mash about half the garlic through the strainer into the liquid. Mix well the liquid and place over medium heat. Let simmer until slightly reduced and thickened a bit. Taste and add more of the garlic if you like, or some wine, if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over the sliced brisket. Serves 8 to 14.
Simple Brisket for a Crowd (Meat)
This is as close as I think anyone can get to a brisket from the shtetle. It is simple and pure; all the ingredients come from nature.
8 to 10 lb. whole brisket, trimmed
5 lb. onions, sliced
5 lb. carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 bunches celery, cleaned and cut in into large pieces
4 to 5 large leeks, white part only, cleaned and cut into half-inch rounds
2 heads garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 to 4 bay leaves
3 to 4 cups beef stock or chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Generously oil a large roasting pan. I suggest using a doubled full steam table pan. Place the onions in the bottom of the pan and place the meat on top. Scatter the rest of the veggies around the pan, add the stock, season with salt and pepper, cover tightly with heavy foil and place in a 350-degree oven.
Roast 4 to 6 hours or until the meat falls apart. Check every 40 to 50 minutes after the first hour; add more broth or water if the pan is too dry.
When done, remove from the oven. Remove the veggies to a bowl, remove the meat and slice and add the gravy to the bowl of veggies and drizzled over the meat. Serves about 15 to 20.
Brisket with Brandy and Wine (Meat)
I copied a version of this from a Bon Appetit magazine in a pediatrician’s waiting room many years ago. I have made it many times and changed it every time I make it. The short ribs are an added extra and enrich the recipe deliciously. The beef bones enrich the flavor of this really great brisket.
4 cups canned low-sodium beef or veggie broth
1 bottle dry white wine
1/2 cup brandy
1/3 cup Canola oil
3 to 4 lb. meaty beef short ribs (I Used about 6 or 7 short ribs)
4 lb. onions, thinly sliced
4 to 6 large celery stalks, sliced
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. whole allspice
1 head garlic cloves, chopped, I use more (you decide)
2 tsp. dried thyme
4 to 5 lb. single brisket, you can use double
3/4 cup chopped, canned tomatoes (diced tomatoes are fine; I use an 8 oz. can)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste, more or less, to taste
Vegetables: These are made before serving. I love them roasted. 3 lb. mixed vegetables (such as baby squashes, turnips, carrots, Cippolini onions, leeks, parsnips, red bliss new potatoes, etc.). I like potatoes, onions, leeks, parsnips, zucchini and butternut squash. These should all be cut into same sized pieces.
8 small red onions or small white onions
10 to 21 whole garlic cloves, roasted (you can quick-roast peeled garlic cloves by simmering them in about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of canola oil until they are golden and softened, about 20 minutes; reserve the oil for salad dressings).
Sauce for Vegetables:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) pareve trans fat-free margarine
1/4 cup honey, more to taste
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 pint box cherry tomatoes
To Cook the Brisket:
Place the wine, broth and brandy in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to about 5 cups of liquid, 12 to 18 minutes.
(To get a fairly true measure, I measure 5 cups as I pour it into the pan. I then use a washable marker and mark a line outside the pan to the level of the liquid. I then pour in the rest of the liquid and cook it until the level is close to the outside line. The line washes off.)
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the beef bones and sear until well browned on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the bones to a plate. Add the onions, celery and allspice to the skillet and sauté over low heat until the onions are deep mahogany. Add a bit more oil if needed. This may take 30 minutes or more. Do not burn and do not raise the heat as this will burn, not caramelize, the onions.
Stir often, scraping up the bits that stick to the bottom of the pan. If the onions stick, add a tablespoon of hot water and scrape with a silicon spatula. Add the garlic and the thyme and mix constantly for 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the onions to the roasting pan and distribute them evenly over the bottom of the pan. Add one cup of the broth to the skillet and heat over high heat, scraping up the browned bits. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add to the roasting pan.
Season the brisket with salt and pepper and sear in the same skillet, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Add the brisket to the roasting pan on top of the onions. Place the bones around the brisket. Add the rest of the broth and the tomatoes to the skillet over high heat and scrape up any browned bits. Pour the hot broth and tomatoes over the brisket. Cover the pan tightly with heavy foil and place in the oven.
Roast for 3 to 5 hours, and baste every 40 minutes or so. Add more broth or water if needed. Cool the brisket for 1 to 2 hours, slice, put the slices back in the pan, spoon some sauce over the slices, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
ON SERVING DAY:
Chip out the congealed fat around the brisket and discard. Cover the pan and reheat at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.
While the meat is heating, cook the vegetables however you like them — steamed, roasted, etc. Place the honey, margarine and thyme in a small skillet and bring to a boil. Heat until syrup is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Place the heated brisket on a large platter and either surround with the veggies or serve the veggies separately.
Drizzle the heated honey over the cooked veggies. Drizzle more of the meat sauce over the brisket and short ribs and pass any remaining sauces. Serves 8 to 12.
(Almost) My Mother’s (And Everyone Else’s) Traditional Roast Brisket with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions and More (Meat)
4 to 6 lb. single brisket, you can use double well-trimmed
3 to 4 large onions, sliced thinly
2 to 3 lb. carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
3 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
6 parsnips, peeled and cut in chunks
4 leeks, white part only, cut into half inch slices, and washed thoroughly
3/4 to 1 cup tomato sauce or ketchup
4 to 6 cups (plus more) water or chicken, beef, or veggie
4 to 10 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 packages frozen lima beans
Place the meat in a large Dutch oven. Prepare the vegetables and add them around the meat. Mix the tomato paste or ketchup and water or broth and pour over the meat and vegetables. Cover tightly and roast at 350 degrees.
Check every half hour to make sure that the water has not been totally absorbed. Add more water as needed. Cook for 4 to 5 hours, adding more water if needed. If you want to add the lima beans, add them with more water for the last hour of cooking.
Wine Drenched Brisket with Garlic and Onions (Meat)
2 cups dry red wine
4 to 10 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 or 2 large yellow onions
2 to 3 Tbsp. Tamari Sauce
1 (3 to 4 lb.) single brisket
3 to 5 onions, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, cut in half
2 cups beef stock
MARINADE: Cut the onion in pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, wine, olive oil and Tamari sauce. Pulse until smooth and well-blended.
ASSEMBLY: Place the brisket in the roasting pan you will cook it in and pour the marinade over the meat. Cover with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Turn once or twice.
Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Heat a large skillet and sauté the sliced onions until they are light golden brown. Add the mushrooms and sauté just until they begin to exude their juices.
Pour the mushroom/onion mixture evenly over the brisket and cover the roasting pan tightly with foil. Roast in a 325 degree oven for 3 to 5 hours or until fork tender. Check each hour and add beef stock if the liquid is evaporating too quickly. Serves 4 to 8.
Vinegar And Brown Sugar Braised Overnight Brisket (Meat)
I try to make other brisket recipes but, no matter how spectacular, they always elicit frowns because THOSE briskets are NOT THIS brisket.
So I make it year after year and send it home with my family members for leftovers! You can cut the recipes in half for smaller groups. I start this brisket at about 10 pm to get it in the oven by 11. By 8 am, the brisket is USUALLY cooked to perfection. Sometimes, if very large, it needs a bit more time at a higher temperature.
1 whole brisket (about 10 to 13 lb.) trimmed
3 lb. onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup white vinegar
1-2/3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
For this brisket, I use a doubled full steam pan and heavy-duty foil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and slice the onions. (A food processor does it in an instant.) Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to turn golden brown. It is OK if the skillet has a lot of liquid in it. It will help flavor the sauce. Cook until golden brown but not caramelized.
Coat bottom of the roasting pan with canola oil.
Spread about 1/3 of the onions over the bottom of the pan. Rinse the brisket well and place in the pan. Place the rest of the onions over and around the brisket.
In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar and vinegar until smooth. Add the ketchup and water, mix well and pour over the meat. Reserve any remaining sauce. Make sure the liquid is at least 3/4 of an inch below the top of the pan. Cover tightly with a double sheet of foil and place in the oven. Roast for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, reduce the heat to 225. Check to make sure there is enough liquid. If not, heat (to just boiling) the remaining sauce with enough water to come to 3/4 inch below the top. The hot liquid ensures that the cooking process will not be interrupted by cool liquid.
Carefully add the heated sauce to the brisket and recover tightly so that there are no gaps around the edges. Roast overnight. In the morning, remove the brisket from the oven and carefully remove the corner of the foil farthest from you to prevent steam burns. Check to make sure the brisket is done.
When pulled apart with two forks, the meat should tear easily. Let cool, slice, Divide as needed into two roasting pans for the two days, and refrigerate. Reheat, covered, at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.
Instant Pot Brisket (Meat)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika (sweet or half smoked, half sweet)
1 tsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 single cut brisket, 2 to 3 lb.
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 large onions sliced
4 to 10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup red wine
8 oz. plain crushed tomatoes, no basil
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 large or 2 smaller bay leaves
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. tamari sauce
1 cup beef or chicken stock, low sodium
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix the rub ingredients together and rub the brisket generously with the rub. Set aside on a plate.
Heat the Instant pot to saute. Add the canola oil. Add the onions and saute until golden. Add the garlic, mix well and add the meat. Brown the meat on both sides. (You may have to cut the brisket in half to fit, so brown in two batches.)
Remove the meat to a platter and sprinkle the top with a bit more of the rub. Add the tomatoes, stock, brown sugar and tamari sauce to the instant pot and mix well. Add the meat back into the pot so that it fits well in a single layer or a very even double layer. It is OK to cut to fit. If you do a double layer, crisscross the pieces so there is some space open, like a lattice pie crust.
Cover the Instant Pot and secure the lid. Set to high pressure and cook for 60 minutes. Let release naturally for about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the brisket to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
Set the Instant pot to saute (on low) if your machine can do that) and let the sauce cook and reduce. Taste, adjust seasonings and remove the herb sprigs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the brisket and return to the instant pot. Use the keep warm function if you are serving shortly. If not, place the meat on a platter and spoon the sauce over the meat. Serves 4 to 6.