Even though Abby Slutsky owns a bakery business, she likes to find a balance between nutritional foods, interesting side dishes, and sweets.
Ashkenazi Jews began cooking brisket because the meat was an inexpensive, muscular cut that they could make flavorful. Although brisket has gradually increased in price, the meat does not shrink a lot during cooking, so it is still a good value. Jews traditionally serve brisket on the Sabbath, Passover, Chanukah, and the Jewish New Year. However, it is so delicious that people of any nationality and origin can enjoy it anytime.
History of This Recipe
I am not sure if this recipe started with my great-grandmother or if her mother made it, as well. I know that it has been passed down through a minimum of four generations in my family. It is always a crowd-pleaser, and I believe each generation added their own twist to it. My addition to the recipe was to grind the vegetables in a blender to create a thicker gravy than the recipe that was handed down to me. I know my mother was picky about the type of barbecue sauce she used.
Cooking the Brisket
Although brisket requires long, slow cooking to soften the toughness of the meat, it can be prepared in many ways. It can be smoked, made in an oven, or over a stove’s flame. This brisket is made over a low to medium flame over the stove. It’s fragrant sauce permeates the house, so by the time it is ready to eat your mouth is watering. For simplicity, I peel potatoes and make them with the brisket, so I do not need to do much more than make a salad or a green vegetable to complete the meal. I once tried to make this in a Crock-Pot, but it did not come out nearly as tasty as making it on the stove.
- If you are making this for guests, you can prepare it the day before you serve it. Slice the meat, and wrap it in foil. Put the gravy in a separate container, and reheat the meat in the gravy over a low flame for about 20 minutes or until it is hot. You can reheat the potatoes with the meat or prepare them the day you serve them.
- Keep in mind that brisket takes about 50-60 minutes per pound to cook. Pay attention to the weight of your brisket as cooking times vary based on the weight of the brisket. Adjust the cooking time, if necessary.
- I usually remove the fat from the bottom of the brisket before cutting it in slices, but after it cooks. I prefer a serrated knife to cut brisket.
- If you are concerned about breaking the potatoes, remove them before you take the vegetables out of the pot to puree them. You can put the potatoes back in the pot with the sliced meat.
Choosing a Brisket
- First-cut brisket is a flat brisket that is fairly even in thickness. (The ends are only slightly thinner than the bulk of the brisket.) The thickness helps prevent the brisket from becoming dry during cooking and will help the ends maintain a firm shape.
- Point-cut brisket has more marbled fat than the flat variety.
Generally, leaner meats (such as filet mignon) are more expensive, so it is no surprise that the leaner, flat cut of brisket is more expensive than the point cut. The flat brisket tends to cut more uniformly than the point brisket and is less likely to shred at the ends.
Figuring Out How Much to Make
Although not exclusively for Jewish holidays, brisket is frequently served to a large group of guests. Additionally, brisket is delicious the next day and can also be frozen after it is cooked, so it is nice to have leftovers. The host must figure out how much to make. Generally, a half pound of meat will satisfy most guests. Most hosts tend to be a little more generous in deciding how much to cook, but the half-pound recommendation is a nice guideline.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
5 hours 20 min
8-10 servings, with leftovers
For the brisket:
- 6 pounds flat first-cut brisket, untrimmed
- 2 large onions
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
- 3 large celery stalks, cleaned and cut in half without leaves
- 1 (18-ounce) bottle Sweet Baby Ray's Original Barbecue Sauce
- 3/4 bottle chili sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12-14 medium russet or all-purpose potatoes, about fist size
- 28 ounces water
Cutting the Brisket
- Put the olive oil in a large pot, and heat it over a medium flame. Peel and cut one onion into thick pieces and then cut them in half. Peel and cut the other onion in half without cutting it into smaller pieces. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until they are translucent.
- Season the brisket with the salt and pepper on both sides. Push the onion to the side, and sear the brisket for about 15 minutes on each side until you see a brown crust.
- Add the water, barbecue sauce, and chili sauce to the pot. Stir it slightly. The brisket does not have to be completely submerged in liquid.
- Put the bay leaf into the mixture, and let everything cook covered over a low to medium flame for 3 hours. Check the meat after 3 hours to make sure there is sufficient liquid in the pot. Peel and add the whole potatoes to the pot.
- Cook another 1 1/2 hours. Check the pot periodically to make sure you do not need to add additional water. Remove the brisket from the pot. Let it cool for 20 minutes.
- Slice the cooled brisket. It might be a little firm, but that is okay because it will be cooking for another 30-45 minutes sliced. Cut the brisket against the grain. If your brisket looks stringy, you are slicing it the wrong way. Return the brisket to the pot when it is sliced. Try a slice after 30 minutes to see whether it needs additional time to cook.
- Remove the onion halves and whatever other onion you can get out of the pot. Take out the celery and carrots. Put the vegetables in a blender and add a little of the liquid (2-3 tablespoons) to it. Puree it until it is thick.
- Remove a few ladles of liquid, and reserve it. Add the pureed vegetables to the pot. If the gravy looks too thick, add some of ladled gravy back to the pot. If you do not need it, reserve it for the next day. The gravy will thicken when it is refrigerated.
- You may also use water to thin the gravy, if needed. I prefer it a little bit thick.
I usually remove the meat from the pot with tongs and arrange it on a serving plate. If desired, you can decorate the meat with sprigs of fresh herbs, or put the potatoes on the same serving platter. I usually serve the gravy on the side and make green beans to round out the meal.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky