Making a beef brisket for your Jewish holiday or celebration? Don't sweat it! With a little practice and know-how, you'll be cooking up this delicious and gedempte (Yiddish for well cook, fall off the bone good) beef brisket. The best part is that you can use seasonings of choice once you master the art of brisket.
6cupsonionschopped (about 2 large onions or 4 medium onions)
4cupsbeef or chicken broth1 quart
1tbsppotato starch or cornstarch
Preheat your oven to 300º F.
Pat dry your brisket and rub salt and pepper on both sides of it. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add brisket to your pan and sear it on one side for about 3-4 minutes, then flip and sear on the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Remove brisket from the pan and set it aside.
In the same pan used to sear the beef, add onions, carrots and celery and cook the mixture for about 4 minutes until the vegetables become slightly softened. Add vegetables to a bowl and set them aside.
Add broth to the same pan and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the bottom and sides to get any leftover brown bits. Turn off heat and set the broth aside.
Layer your ingredients in your heavy-bottomed roasting pan. Add half of the vegetable mixture, then the beef brisket (fat side down), then add the remaining vegetable mixture. Pour the broth around the brisket.
Add smashed garlic, rosemary springs and bay leaves to the brisket, along with any other seasonings or ingredients you enjoy (see notes). Cover the brisket with parchment paper and heavy duty foil as pictured.
Cook brisket for about 7 hours. Do not disturb the brisket while it cooks. As a general rule of thumb, cook the brisket for 1 hour per pound of brisket or longer.
Remove brisket from the oven, uncover it, and allow it rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Before slicing the brisket, remove the fat from the bottom. Discard the fat in the trash.
You can cut the slightly cooled brisket into thin slices, or, even better, make the brisket ahead of time and cool it completely in your fridge. The brisket is much easier to cut when it's cold. Regardless of when you slice it, be sure to cut against the grain (slicing opposite of the grain) to ensure the beef brisket is tender for your guests.
To thicken the gravy: First you'll want to strain the drippings (gravy/broth) from the vegetables. In a pot over medium-high heat, add gravy with 1 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch (do not use cornstarch for Passover). Whisk the mixture as you bring it to a boil. Mixture will thicken. If the mixture doesn't thicken enough, add more cornstarch slurry (1 tsp of cornstarch + 3 tbsp cold water) to the mixture and continue to add more slurry until mixture thickens. Heat will help the gravy thicken and whisking it will prevent it from becoming lumpy.
Pour half of the gravy over the sliced brisket and vegetables. Reserve half of the gravy to serve on the side so guests can pour more atop their brisket as they desire.
Spice It Up! You can add/substitute other spices and seasonings to the brisket before cooking. I sometimes add 1/4 cup tamari, 1 tbsp garlic-ginger sauce, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, and 2 tbsp of brown sugar for a more spicy result. Experiment with seasonings, to taste, and be sure all ingredients are okay for whatever holiday you're cooking for. For example, you cannot use cornstarch or tamari (soy) for Passover.Making Ahead Recommendations: I recommend making the beef brisket a day or two ahead of time. I don't know why, but the beef brisket tastes best when it's had time to sit for awhile. If you're making the beef brisket ahead of time, store the brisket, vegetables and gravy in separate dishes, covered, in your fridge. You'll need to strain the drippings (reserve for gravy) from the vegetables before refrigerating. The next day, slice the brisket (it will cut easily when it's cold) and top with thicken gravy (see below) and the cooked vegetables. Reheat the brisket, covered, in your 300º F oven for about 30 minutes before serving.Reheating: Place brisket on your counter for 20 minutes to bring it slightly closer to room temperature. Cover and place in a 300º F oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover, turn heat to 350º F, and heat for another 10-20 minutes until warmed through.Cutting: Use a sharp knife to cut the brisket. If the meat is tough, it means you did not cook it long enough. It should be firm but tender. Remember to cut against the grain so the meat falls apart when your guests eat it.Don't Skimp! Brisket needs plenty of time to cook. Do not attempt to speed up the process. Low and slow wins the race every time! Making the Gravy: See instructions for how to make the gravy. Remember, you can thicken it with cornstarch or potato starch, but if you're making it for Passover, do not use cornstarch. You can also add more salt to the gravy, if needed. Adjust flavor to taste.