Growing up, I never heard of brisket. Beef was either ground, steaks, or roasts, except when it was for a stew. It was only when I started hanging with the husband that I learned of this cut, which comes from the lower chest of the cow (not that we’re going to think about the fact that there was a living animal involved here at one point). It has a lot of connective tissue and can be very very very tough if not cooked properly, and since this is a big slab of meat, you don’t want to mess it up. The key words when cooking brisket are low and slow: low heat, slow cooked. And by slow, I mean that the brisket I cooked last week took a good five hours to reach the point of tenderness that I wanted.
The good news is that once it’s in the oven, there’s no fussing required. Also, it tastes even better (and becomes even more tender) after reheating, freezing, or both, making it an ideal make-ahead dish. I never serve brisket right after cooking: at the very least, I will put it in the oven first thing in the morning, refrigerate after cooking, then slice and reheat in pan juices. It makes a lot, but – funny thing – it usually disappears very quickly, if you get my drift 🙂
Here’s how I make it for special occasions. This is adapted from a recipe found in The Pleasures of Your Processor, by Norene Gilletz.
2 or 3 onions.
Put them in the bottom of a big pan (9×13, roaster, whatever you have).
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 c. soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
1/2 envelope dried onion soup mix.
Massage this mixture into a
4 – 5 pound brisket.
Cover with foil and let it sit overnight.
The next morning, put the whole thing in the oven. Cook at 325 for 45 minutes/pound – so, a good 3 – 4 hours or more. You want this baby to be fork tender. When it’s cooked, put it in the fridge. (Or freezer, if it’s more than a day.) Refrigerate until about an hour before serving. Trim the gross hunks of fat. Slice it up, making sure you slice ACROSS the grain.
the remaining onion soup mix
1/2 cup (or so) red wine and/or water.
Pour this over the sliced meat. Cover. Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and let it go another 15’ish minutes.Serve over rice. Moan a little.