We’re still recovering from Purim, and already Passover is upon us! I love this time of year. The eight day long Passover holiday commemorates the Biblical story of Exodus, in which the Israelite Jewish slaves of Ancient Egypt are liberated from slavery. Passover is a celebration of freedom. It’s an expression of gratitude for the freedom we have (and so often take for granted). It’s also an opportunity for the Jewish people to connect to their shared spiritual history. In a ritual feast known as the Passover Seder, the story of Exodus is told. Prayers and blessings are recited, songs fill the air, and beautiful traditions are kept alive through ancient customs. For Jews, the ritual of a Passover Seder meal is filled with reverence. The same prayers and stories have been said over the Passover table for centuries. It’s a beautiful holiday that never fails to fill me with joy. The celebration of Passover is one of the many reasons I connected to Judaism, and eventually converted.
Many Christians also celebrate Passover in connection with the Christian holiday of Easter. In recent years, it has become more common for churches and Christian groups to host their own short Passover Seders, often led by visiting Rabbis. This spirit of cultural sharing is a wonderful way for people of different faiths to find common ground and foster mutual understanding.
A Jewish Passover celebration comes with a list of dietary laws that must be adhered to in addition to the normal kosher laws. For the eight days of Passover, we do not eat chametz, or leavened bread products. When the Jews fled Egypt, they did not have time to let their bread rise. Instead, they brought unleavened bread with them into the desert, which was baked by the sun (which is, in essence, matzo). That’s why we use matzo and matzo meal products rather than leavened bread or grains during Passover.
While some folks dread the dietary restrictions of a kosher Jewish Passover, I welcome them as a unique culinary challenge. Over the years I’ve embraced the idea of cooking without chametz. It’s pushed me to think outside the box and get creative with my cooking. I’ve been working hard and digging into my recipe archives to find some easy, yummy recipes for your Seder table. I’m excited to share these recipes with you!
In an effort to be both tasty and healthy, a lot of my Passover recipes this year will be gluten free or feature easy GF modifications. Because of the restriction on leavened grains, Passover is a great time to find substitutes for ingredients with gluten. For my gluten free readers, you’ll be pleased to know that many of my Passover recipes can be put into your regular meal rotation throughout the year!
Today’s recipe is a savory entrée for your Passover table. This braised brisket is slowly cooked over a long period of time, allowing the fresh herbs to deeply flavor the meat. Your house will smell amazing! Choose a fatty cut of brisket for best results; first or second cut will both work fine (first cut is typically leaner). No matter which cut you choose, don’t let the butcher trim the fat cap/layer off—the excess fat makes the brisket moist and fork-tender after a day of slow cooking. You can trim the excess fat after cooking.
Make gravy from the pan drippings using a slurry of potato starch, then cover the meat with the rich herby brown sauce. Need a complimentary starch? You can serve the meat and sauce over my Yukon Gold Mash with Rosemary and Garlic (recipe posting tomorrow). Your guests will swoon. The best part is, it’s all very simple to make!
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- 5-7 lb brisket
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 onions, diced
- 5 carrots, carrots, peeled & sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 5 celery stalks, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 qt beef broth
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Potato starch (optional)
- Fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)
You will also need
- Large heavy roasting pan (not aluminum or disposable)
- aluminum foil
- GF Note: If you’re cooking gluten free, make sure that your beef broth and potato starch are certified GF.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Rinse the brisket and pat dry. Rub both sides of the meat with black pepper and kosher salt.
- Heat roasting pan over a medium flame on the stovetop. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil into the pan. Brown the brisket on both sides—it will take about 4 minutes per side.
- Remove brisket from the pan. Drizzle a little more olive oil in the pan and add the diced onions, carrot slices and celery chunks. Sauté the vegetables for a few minutes, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan with your spatula.
- When onion is translucent and carrot slices are slightly caramelized, scoop them out of the pan and place in a bowl. Pour beef broth into the bottom of your pan till covered. Scrape up any remaining brown bits on the bottom of the pan as the broth heats up.
- When broth is hot, add half your vegetables back into the pan spread out across the bottom. Place your brisket back into the pan, fatty side facing up. Place garlic cloves on top of the meat, evenly spaced. Add the remaining veggies to the pan, spreading them on top of the brisket to cover. Place herbs on top of the brisket and in the broth, evenly dispersed.
- Pour more beef broth into the pan until it goes halfway up the sides of your brisket. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and place in the oven.
- Let it roast undisturbed for 5 to 7 hours. It will take about 1 hour per pound of meat (leaner cuts of meat may take longer—test for doneness). Brisket is ready when it flakes tenderly. You can let it cook even longer for a soft, shredded texture (my favorite!).
- Remove brisket from the pan and let it rest on the cutting board for 20-30 minutes before slicing.
- Strain pan drippings from the roasting pan into a saucepan and allow to cool.
- Skim fat from the surface of the pan drippings…
- then reheat the remaining liquid till hot (not boiling). Thicken with a slurry of potato starch to make gravy, if desired. You can alternately blend the softened vegetables into the gravy to thicken it.
- Cut fat cap off the brisket…
- then cut the brisket in thin slices against the grain.
- Serve topped with pan juices or thickened gravy, along with the softened veggies if you have reserved them.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.
- To Make Ahead: After cooking the brisket, open the foil to vent and let the brisket slowly return to room temperature. Switch the brisket and sauce to a ceramic or glass dish (aluminum from the roasting pan can react with the vinegar in the sauce, which can cause an off taste if left to sit). Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Let the brisket chill overnight, or up to two days. You can also freeze the brisket up to a week ahead if you prefer. 1-2 hours before serving, remove the brisket from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. The fat in the sauce will have risen to the top, turned white, and solidified. Use a spoon to scoop the fat bits out of the sauce and discard. Take the brisket out of the dish and brush any excess sauce back into the dish. Place brisket on a cutting board, fat-side up. Slice the meat cold—first cut the fat cap off the brisket, then cut the brisket in thin slices against the grain. Return the sliced meat to the dish and spoon sauce over it, making sure to spoon a little sauce between each slice. Cover the dish with foil and place it in the oven. Let the brisket roast for 45-60 minutes till heated through. You can cook it even longer to let it become more tender, if you wish. Serve with hot sauce and softened veggies. You can also blend the veggies into the sauce to thicken it, if you prefer.