BYOB (be your own bubbie) Jewish Brisket
Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from an area of the cow (boob area) that is a workhorse (workcow?) and the meat is tooouuughhhhhh. Because it’s tough and loves low heat, it’s a cut that’s just absolutely amazing when slow roasted (or grilled). A lot of people out there would argue that Texas Style BBQ brisket is the best on the market… but if you ask me, which you didn’t but you’re on my website so you SORT OF did… it’s best cooked slowly with pounds of dried fruit.
There are a lot of bubbies (yiddish for Grandma) in the world, and each bubbie has a different way of cooking this cut of meat. I frequently see it slathered in ketchup or cooked with tomato paste and mirepoix (carrot, onion and celery). Frequently these recipes come with a healthy dose of brown sugar because, well, sugar is delicious, but I prefer the natural sugar, texture and flavor of dried fruit. There is no right or wrong when it comes to cooking a brisket, in fact, I’ve almost never met a brisket I didn’t like. But this is the brisket my grandma made, it’s the brisket that my mom makes, and it’s the brisket that I absolutely love the most and will continue serving forever.
There are a few tricks to the brisket, so I hope you’ll read the directions carefully before starting your brisket adventure.
I am beyond thrilled to share this little piece of my heart with you!
As an important side note, the best way to cook a brisket is the day before. Ideally you can do the initial long cook one day, and then slice and reheat the next. You can combine the steps and do it in one day, but the result is significantly better the next day!
[SERVES 6-8 I EAT A LOT OF BRISKET]
1 tablespoon salt
5 pounds beef brisket
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, cut into 2 inch coins
2 celery sticks, cut into 3 inch-ish chunks
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups beef stock (or any stock you have on hand)
4 cups red wine (go for a reasonably priced cabernet sauvignon if you’re not sure what you like, but if it’s not good enough to drink on it’s own DON’T COOK WITH IT)
10ish black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried prunes (mmm farty!)
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees
Heat your largest pan on the stovetop over a high heat
Pat down the brisket, cut it in half, and season it with all the salt
Sear the brisket, one piece at a time, with the fat side down until it’s got a light crust and color (about 4 minutes)
Turn and sear the second side of the meat until it also has some color (about 4 minutes)
Put both pieces of meat into a large pyrex (or other baking vessel) with the fattier side face up
Turn the heat down on the pan to medium and add the olive oil, followed by the onion, carrot and celery
Let these cook for about 5 minutes until parts of the onion are lightly golden in some areas and then add the garlic and give it another few minutes
Add in all the liquid (wine and stock) and let it simmer for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure any of the scraps from the beef are back into the mix
While the liquid is cooking down add the dried fruit, peppercorns and bay leaves to the pyrex where your meat is chillin
Pour liquid over the meat and cover the whole thing with tin foil
Roast for 6 hours, if you don’t cook this cut long enough, it won’t be tender
Remove the brisket from the oven and take off the tin foil (but keep it cause you’ll need it again)
Allow the meat to cool before storing it in the fridge overnight covered again in said tinfoil
Preferably the next day - preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Remove the brisket from the fridge and slice it on a cutting board working against the grain in 1/2 inch slices (it’s much easier to cut without shredding it when it’s cold, and it’s also easier to remove any excess fat this way)
Add the brisket back into the pan nuzzling it below all the delicious dried fruit, so it can absorb extra sauce
Cook meat for another 45 minutes until it’s hot all the way through and lightly crisped at any visible edges