Honestly, you could make a wonderful brisket by following my 7 Tips for Perfect Brisket without a recipe providing specific measurements and directions. Still, I do understand that it can be comforting to have a recipe as a guide, so here is the one I made this Rosh Hashanah.
Brisket is food for a crowd. You really can’t make a tiny brisket for one or two people to eat for a single meal, though you can easily make it and freeze portions for several meals. Don’t let the price of the meat dissuade you from cooking brisket if you’re willing to spend $6 per person on a main dish. After all, how much would you pay for a fabulous beef stew meal in a restaurant?
My main advice when it comes to brisket is – “don’t be a slave to the recipe.” Whether creativity takes you on a detour or you find that your batch needs more liquid, use this recipe (or any other one) only as a guide. There are as many ways to make delicious brisket as there are brisket-lovers who cook it. Which liquids you choose (white wine versus red, all broth versus a combination of broth and wine), how you season it, and which vegetables you add are matters of personal taste.
And while we’re on the subject of ingredients, don’t be put off by the “stand alone” taste of an ingredient tastes when considering whether to add it to the mix. Dried figs? You may be surprised at how the ingredients blend together during slow cooking. Unless you put in way too much of an ingredient (like adding ¼ cup of powdered ginger) or head to an ingredient you should know better than to add (fish sauce in brisket – no!!!!), you’re on firm ground when you experiment.
I don’t thicken my brisket gravy. However if you find the gravy too thin for your taste, you can thicken it using the directions in my post on how to make gravy.
Servings – 8-10 Cost – $35-40
- 4 ½ – 4 ¾ pounds of brisket cut of beef
- About ¼ – ½ cup of flour for dredging
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of oil
- 3 cups thinly sliced onions
- 1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 – 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- ¼ cup dried and chopped figs
- 1- 14 ounce can of tomatoes, including juice
- 1 cup beef broth (may add more as it cooks)
- 1 cup white wine (may add more as it cooks)
- 3 or more cups of “hard” vegetables cut into chunks – carrots, potatoes, turnips
- Paper towel
- 1 large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, big enough to hold the brisket without bending it much. (I use a Creuset enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven.) The brisket shrinks slightly during cooking.
- 2 large plates
- Cutting board
- Large spoon
- Meat carving fork
- Large, sharp knife for cutting brisket when it is done
- Carving board with a rim to catch juices or a cutting board placed inside a rimmed cookie sheet
- Make sure the oven racks are placed so that you have enough room to move the large pot and its cover in and out of the oven. (In my oven that requires removing 1 or 2 of the racks, which should be done before the oven is heated.) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Dry the brisket with a paper towel. Resting the meat on one of the plates, sprinkle all sides with flour and pat it to dust off the excess.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot. Gently place the brisket in the pot, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and brown on a medium high heat on the stovetop for about 3-5 minutes per side, browning every surface. Once the meat has fully browned, remove it from the pot and add in 2 more tablespoons of oil.
- After the oil has heated, cook the onions for about 5 minutes on a medium-low heat until they start to become transparent. Add the garlic, ginger, thyme and figs and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and their juice, beef broth, and wine. (I used broth I had frozen in ice cube-sized pieces.) Stir those ingredients until combined.
- Return the brisket to the pot, spoon some liquid and tomatoes on top, cover it tightly and cook for 3-4 hours. About halfway through (1½ -2 hours into the cooking), add the chunks of hard vegetables, trying to push them in gently around the sides rather than just leaving them on the top of the meat. Continue cooking the brisket covered, until the meat is completely tender. Add more salt and pepper as necessary.
- Test the meat by spearing it with the carving fork; if the meat is fully cooked, the fork will slide in without resistance. Take the meat out and place it on a cutting board, letting it rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing it. Brisket always tastes better the second day, so I prefer to cook it the day before serving. When it is done cooking, I separate the meat from the liquid and vegetables, refrigerate all of them, and slice the meat the next day. Cooling the brisket and gravy makes it easier to remove the fat; you can easily scoop it off the top of the cooled gravy and cut it off the meat as you slice it.
Brisket is often served with kugel, potatoes, or the wide noodles used for kugel simply boiled. Another favorite side dish of mine is kasha varnishkes, which I’ll be posting about next week. Also, I often add vegetables such as green beans, parsnips and even pieces of winter squash as sides for the meat-based main course.