I Could Write A Book….on Brisket!

Yes, I really could! There must be as many recipes for making brisket as there are cooks who make it, just ask my sister! And like the commercial says,”Who doesn’t like brisket?” Not many, that’s for sure. Here’s my way….handed down from my grandmother to my mother to me and when it comes to the holidays, doing it the “old fashioned” way seems to make it taste like home.

Brisket – A Family Tradition

  • Either 1 whole brisket (with the deckle) or 1 flat brisket
  •  A couple of good sized onions
  • A couple of good sized peeled garlic cloves
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A little water

Coarsely chop onions and garlic into the bottom of a large roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Sweat the onions until they start loosing their liquid; this can be done either in the oven or on the stove.

Preheat the oven (or electric roaster) to 325º. Put brisket on top of onions, sprinkle with some more salt, pepper, bay leaves and paprika, add about 1/2-1 cup of water, cover and roast until it is a little beyond half done, 1 1/2-2 hours, depending on the size. Check it often to be sure there is plenty of liquid (you’ll need this later).

When half-cooked, remove from oven, cover and chill. The next day remove as much of the fat as possible (you can’t get it all and you don’t want to loose the cooked onions).

Remove the meat and slice thinly, about 1/8” per slice. If using the deckle, you can cut away some of the big hunk of fat before you start slicing. When slicing is done (keep the scraps and ends, too), set aside. Strain the liquid back into the roaster and discard the bay leaves. Puree the onions either the old way (pour into a strainer and puree by rubbing the onions with the back of a spoon through the strainer) or pulse a few times in the food processor. If it’s too thick to puree easily, add some of the reserved liquid.

Pour the puree back into the pan, mix well, and placed the sliced brisket, fat side up,  back into the pan, letting some of the pureed onions be between the slices and spoon some on top. Add any ends and crumbs from the slicing. Add more water so the level is about 1/3 of the way up the meat. Add more salt & pepper if needed; sprinkle the top with some more paprika. Return it to a 325-350º oven and finish cooking, about another 1-2 hours.

Serve with gravy on the side. Gravy is good with challah or rye bread. Mashed potatoes, or kasha and seashells (bow ties if you are a New Yorker), go well with this as a side starch.  Reheat any leftovers for another meal or sandwiches; if reheated a few times, you may need to add more water, salt and pepper to extend the gravy.

Grandpa Rosenbaum loved a Hot Brisket sandwich the next day or two. He’d take 2 slices of really fresh rye bread with seeds, lay slices of brisket on top, add gravy and eat it with both dill pickles and applesauce. I eat it that way too (except I do either the pickles or the applesauce, not both together).

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