Holiday Brisket

Jews living in Eastern Europe rarely had the money to buy better cuts of meat. They learned to make do with cheaper kosher cuts, like brisket, oft overlooked for its toughness. Over time they learned that cooking the brisket cut low and slow would result in a tender piece of meat. Onions were added– lots of them– and garlic, too. Brisket was traditionally served for special holidays and occasions. On Shabbat, it was added to a pot with vegetables and potatoes to make a slow-cooked meaty stew known as cholent. At Rosh Hashanah, it was added to root vegetables with sweet dried fruits and slow cooked into tzimmes.

When Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants came to the United States, they brought their love of brisket with them. Here, it evolved– Jewish deli owners pickled the brisket to make corned beef or pastrami. But for the holidays, nothing could replace the comforting, hearty flavor of a roasted brisket.

The secret to a cooking a brisket is twofold– brisket needs fat and time to come out tender and delicious. Choose a cut with nice marbling; the more fat you can see, the more tender the meat will be. Very lean cuts (like grass fed) can turn out tough no matter how long you cook them. Usually I try to buy grass fed meat, but during the holidays fat is key. Indulge a little– splurge! It is a holiday, after all. And of course, allow yourself plenty of time to cook your brisket. If you can, make it a day or two ahead– the meat will improve with time.

This brisket is savory, aromatic, subtly sweet, with just a touch of tang. It slow cooks for hours, so the final product flakes tenderly and simply melts in your mouth. The sauce is rich and flavorful, and the slow cooked vegetables are soft, like butter. The flavor is perfect for any special celebration… it’s perfect for the Jewish holidays, which is why I’ve named this my Holiday Brisket. I think this might just be my “forever brisket”– it’s that good. Enjoy!

By the way, you can hear me dish about brisket on my recent radio interview with Joan Hamburg by clicking the triangle “play” button below. We talked about this brisket, along with our other favorite dishes for the Passover holiday!

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Holiday Brisket

Ingredients

  • 5-7 lb. brisket, first or second cut (grass fed not recommended)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large brown onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lb. celery, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large can (1 lb. 12 oz.) tomatoes - whole, diced, or crushed
  • 10 peeled whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar, but white vinegar works too)
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth, divided
  • Salt and pepper

You will also need

  • Large roasting pan, blender or food processor, large skillet, spatula, aluminum foil, large glass or ceramic baking dish (if making ahead), plastic wrap (if making ahead), sharp carving knife
Total Time: 7 - 48 Hours
Servings: 8-12 servings
Kosher Key: Meat, Kosher for Passover
  • GF Note: If you’re cooking gluten free, make sure that your broth and vinegar is certified GF.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Rinse the brisket and pat dry. Rub both sides of the meat with black pepper and salt. Heat a large skillet over a medium flame on the stovetop. Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into the pan. Brown the brisket on both sides—it will take 4-5 minutes per side. A large brisket may overlap the edges of the skillet; you can brown it in stages, letting half the brisket overlap the edge, then adjusting it to brown the other half.
  • While brisket is browning, pour canned tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and 1 ½ cups broth into a blender or food processor. Add 2 tsp of salt (or 1 tsp if using a kosher cut of brisket) and ¼ tsp of black pepper. Pulse till garlic is chopped small and all ingredients are combined.
  • Remove the browned brisket from the skillet.
  • Drizzle 2 tbsp more olive oil in the pan and add the sliced onions. Saute them over medium high for a few minutes till they begin to soften and shrink in size.
  • Add the carrot and celery slices. Sauce for another 5-6 minutes till the onions are caramelized and the vegetables are fragrant.
  • Pour the vegetables out of the skillet and onto a plate, reserve. Pour 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth into the skillet and let it heat up. Use a spatula to scrape up any brown bits that are clinging to the skillet. Turn off heat.
  • Pour half of the tomato mixture into a large roasting pan.
  • Place brisket on top of the tomato sauce, fat cap facing up.
  • Pour the sauteed vegetables across the top of the brisket, along with the broth and brown bits.
  • Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the vegetables and brisket.
  • Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, tenting slightly so there is no contact between the foil and the ingredients inside.
  • Place into the preheated 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 when pierced with a fork. You can let it cook even longer for a soft, shredded texture if that’s what you prefer. When fully cooked, the brisket will have shrunk in size.
  • I recommend making this brisket ahead; allowing it to sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 nights will improve the flavor. If you would like to do this, skip ahead to where it says “Make Ahead Directions.” If you are not making ahead, continue reading.
  • Remove brisket from the pan and let it rest on the cutting board fat-side up for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the sauce and vegetables from the roasting pan into a smaller saucepan. Skim fat from the surface of the cooking sauce, then reheat the sauce till hot (not boiling).
  • Cut fat cap off the brisket, then cut the brisket in thin slices against the grain. Serve topped with hot tomato sauce and softened veggies.
  • Make Ahead Directions: 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.
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Category: Entrees, Gluten Free, In the Kitchen, Meat, Nut Free, Passover - Ashkenazi, Passover - Gluten Free Ashkenazi, Passover - Gluten Free Sephardic, Passover - Sephardic, Recipes, Rosh Hashanah, Slide Show

Comments (42)Post a Comment

  1. Jackie says:

    My mother would make it in a similar way, however, after everything was done she put the gravy & all the vegetables in the blender. This made the most delicious gravy which was very rich & thick.

  2. Ann says:

    Wow – that looks delicious! I love tomatoes cooked with beef – it makes amazing gravy!

  3. Kristy says:

    Oh this makes me hungry. I’m glad you noted to buy the fattier meats. I would have gone lean otherwise. :)

  4. Tori, this looks wonderful, like all your recipes. Over here in Israel, where our meat is never that great, and tends to be a lot less tender than anyone would wish for, I have found that the trick is cooking the brisket in a slow cooker/crock pot. Cooking in in the slow cooker also cuts out having to seal the meat in a pan. Here’s an alternative recipe for those of you who don’t have the advantage of tender American beef and want to try a slow cooker version. link to kosherblogger.wordpress.com

  5. ansky says:

    Love your blog. A Zeesen Peysach to you.

    Epicurious has a wonderful brisket recipe, My Mother’s Brisket. I follow the recipe exactly except where it calls for 3 cups of water I add 2 cups of red holiday spice wine and 1 cup of water.
    I’m tellin’ you, they’ll come from all over!
    Ansky

  6. Lori Lynn says:

    We do love brisket Tori!
    Yours is very similar to the one we make, 16 lbs. all together, I caramelize it under the broiler first. Not fancy, just good! Unlike a lot of recipes, this is one I never change.
    My nephew Stone has helped me make it since he was 4 years old. This year he’s nine, I’m hoping he’s make the whole thing himself!
    LL

  7. Amy says:

    Made this for Passover seder tonight. I followed your instructions exactly. It came out tender and tasty. I received complements from my picky eater husband AND my Mother-in-law! Thank YOU!

  8. Oh my my my. There was nothing left, the brisket disappeared. I have made my share of briskets over the years, and frankly, I don’t make it a lot due to cost and lukewarm reviews…but this was incredible. Juicy, tasty….it is amazing!! The sweet/sour meatballs are simmering as we speak, sure to be another hit.

  9. Juli says:

    Made this delicious brisket for Rosh Hashanah. Came out great. Super tender with great flavor in the sauce. Took me back to my childhood. Thanks for the recipe and for the detailed instructions and pictures! I’m a “shiksa” fan!!!

  10. Angie says:

    I’m so glad I found your site! I’m a shiksa too. I converted over 30 years ago but never had the benefit of in-laws who lived close enough to teach me about Jewish cooking. Everything I know is from Jewish cookbooks. I’m going to this brisket recipe this weekend, for Passover on Monday.

  11. Angie says:

    Hi. Is this recipe for a single or double brisket? Help I am at the butchers now.

    • Tori Avey says:

      It is for a single large brisket… I’m not sure what you mean by “double brisket,” but if you mean two separate briskets, then no, the recipe is for one brisket. Hope that helps!

  12. Angie says:

    Hi. I meant to at single cut vs double cut. The double is twice as thick with fat between the layers. It’s cheaper but I’d I buy this. It sues what it will mean about the cooking time.

  13. Angie says:

    Well that came out all nonsense. Will a thicker cut mean a much longer cooking time?

    • Tori Avey says:

      It will take about 1 hour per pound of meat. I like a brisket that is a bit fattier (2nd cut or a well marbled 1st cut). You can estimate time based on 1 hour per pound. Hope that helps!

  14. Angie says:

    Sorry my last post disappeared! A single cut is half the depth of a double cut and has less fat. How would this change the cooking time? Thanks.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Time it by weight. The depth doesn’t matter, the weight does. 1 hour per pound, roughly… though it varies a bit per brisket, it’s not an exact science.

  15. Angie says:

    Ok Thanks!

  16. Diana says:

    I made this brisket yesterday for Passover with my family. It was a hit. I can’t wait to try other recipes. Great site.

  17. Angie says:

    The brisket was delicious!

  18. Patty B Young says:

    This recipe was a MAJOR hit at our Seder. Thank you!!! You have a new blog fan.

  19. leslee says:

    This recipe looks delicous, but am confused about what to do with the cooked vegetables in the make ahead version.
    Should the veggies be stored in a dish seperate from the meat so they don’t get overly soggy?
    Should I saute fresh veggies to mix in with brisket and sauce on reheat several days later?

    • Tori Avey says:

      You can keep the veggies in with the meat, they will already be extremely soft from slowly cooking with the brisket so keeping them in the juices with the meat won’t affect their texture much. If you’d like your veggies less overcooked, you can certainly saute fresh veggies when reheating if you wish. Some people like to discard the soft cooked veggies, some blend them up with the juices to create a thickened gravy, and some just include them whole and soft with the brisket. It’s totally a matter of preference. Enjoy!

  20. Karen says:

    I want to say a huge “thank you” for this brisket recipe! I gave up cooking brisket years ago, because they always came out tough and flavorless. Not anymore! This recipe is amazing and now it is my “go to” recipe for special shabbat and holiday dinners. Your recipe makes me look like a brisket superstar:-)

  21. leslee says:

    My family loved the brisket, but I made too much of it.
    Is it possible to freeze the brisket and yummy sauce?
    If not, how long would you suggest keeping the leftovers in the refridgerator?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Leslee– the brisket will freeze just fine as long as you let it come to room temperature completely before putting in the freezer. In the fridge the leftovers should last about 5 days, in my experience. Glad you loved the brisket!

  22. Marny CA says:

    For dinner tonight I wanted to warm up a leftover from eating out yesterday.

    I decided to try the parchment paper to wrap the item for the microwave. 2 minutes later, the food was HOT and tender – and delicious. There was also no clean up pan; just toss the paper. Opened the parchment carefully, that’s for sure.

    The next time I made brisket I’m going to brown the meat and the onions, etc. and then put try some in parchment.

    Might be too much gravy so might do 1/2 and 1/2 – pot / parchment – just to see how it turns out.

    Yours sounds delicious – but I don’t have a food processor.

  23. Christina Fox says:

    Shiksa, my grandma made this for me every weekend when I was a child (and she thought my Shiksa mother kept me to skinny) :) I would LOVE to prepare this just the way that she did for my children, ( there pretty skinny themselves) but she has passed away. She cooked with these same EXACT ingredients but in a pressure cooker… Do you know how to do that? I’ve never used a pressure cooker.

  24. Julie Plaut Warwick says:

    Everything that I have made from your site has been amazing! I love the pomegranate brisket but did not have time to marinate this time around. My house smells so delicious right now and I can not wait to take the brisket out of the oven and taste it before I put it in the fridge for tomorrow’s shabbat dinner :)

  25. Tova says:

    Shiksa help! I’m making brisket for Rosh hashanah which is tomorrow. You say a five or six pounder will take 5 to 6 hours my butcher says only three hours …which do I follow? I need it very very tender. I’m confused. I don’t understand how it will cook through and through and not be too tough in three hours or five hours?!?! I hope you’re listening! Happy new year!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Tova– depends on who you trust more, me or your butcher. :) Do you have a first cut or second cut brisket? If yes, follow my instructions carefully and you will get a tender brisket. If you’re using the right amount of liquid and cooking slowly at a low temperature, there is no risk of overcooking it– the longer you cook it, the more tender it becomes. The only exception to this rule is grass fed brisket, which is quite lean and requires a shorter cooking time. Though I do prefer lean grass fed meat in general, I don’t recommend it for brisket– it’s too tough a piece of meat and it needs the extra fat. If you didn’t buy grass fed brisket (which you probably didn’t, since it’s pretty hard to find), then I recommend you follow my instructions carefully. You should end up with a very tender brisket (if you read the comments above, they’ll confirm the recipe works). You could always check it after three hours and see what you think… my guess is it won’t be nearly tender enough for you, and you’ll want to cook it the extra 2-3 hours. Happy cooking!

  26. susan yarnall says:

    Tried this recipe to get the sweet and sour element that I was missing in my family brisket recipe. Also used the tip to puree the cooked vegetables in the juice. Rested in refrigerator for 2 days and…perfection! Thank you Tori!

  27. leslee says:

    how long will a cooked brisket (or leftovers) keep in the fridge?

  28. Lillia says:

    Why is grass fed meat not recommended?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Lillia– I almost always prefer grass fed meat for health reasons, however grass fed brisket is VERY tricky to cook. The tenderness in a well-cooked brisket comes from fat in the brisket, which keeps the meat moist and tender as it slowly cooks. Grass fed brisket is too lean to get a good tender result, based on my experimentation. I wish it were different, since I really appreciate the health aspect of grass fed!

  29. Kasia says:

    Please explain why the tin foil can not touch the ingredients.

  30. Nancy says:

    Hi Shiksa, not sure where you are getting your grass fed brisket from that they are too lean. All of the grass fed briskets I’ve ever bought have been super fatty. It is a difficult cut of meat, for sure though. I’ve had it cook for 8 to 10 hours in the slow cooker and still had meat embedded into the fat that I couldn’t get separated. And this is with grass fed.

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