Our Honey Girl is home from college! And since she is a consummate carnivore and lover of all things beef, I made a beef brisket for one of her first dinners home. When she and our Sweet Boy were little, they took a turn cooking with me one night a week and planned menus. After a particularly enthusiastic week of cooking during which she planned seven nights of beef—meatloaf, braciole, beef brisket, beef stew, steaks, beef stroganoff, and shepherd’s pie made with…beef—we decided to give her a week or two off! They were all delicious dinners, and she was in heaven, but the rest of us were feeling, well, like we might start mooing if we ate any more beef. Whenever she comes home now, though, I cook some of her favorites, and we all enjoy a bit of a beef festival.
I don’t know why more people don’t cook brisket. At my favorite market they have recently stopped carrying corn-fed brisket, and I’m a little heartbroken over it, partly because I have to make a trip for it now to the fancy schmancy grocery store across town where it is twice as expensive, but also because it is a sign that its popularity is waning. It is a delicious cut, rather inexpensive, and a snap to make. After browning, it braises in the oven until it is fork tender, and it doesn’t even need an occasional prod. It’s practically a one-pot dinner, and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love brisket. Make it.
Beef Brisket Tips
Ask your butcher to trim up a whole brisket. This can be done while you finish your shopping. It only takes a few minutes.
When you sear the brisket, resist the temptation to peek at it and to fuss with it. You will smell its beefy goodness when it is ready to be turned, and you will see the deep brown crust at the edge. If you lift the brisket, it will not develop a proper crust and will, therefore, not develop excellent flavor. It will pull away from the pan easily when it is ready. If it’s sticking, let it brown a bit longer. It takes about eight to ten minutes per side to brown.
The meat is ready when it is fork tender. If it’s tough, it just needs to cook a bit longer. Don’t worry!
If you have leftovers, warm them over a low flame on the stove. Or remove the brisket from the pan, slice it thinly, return the meat to the pan, warm it over a low flame on the stove, and serve it on farmhouse rolls, perhaps topped with a little horseradish cream, for a delicious brisket sandwich. You can smash the carrots into the sauce and drizzle some on, too. Yum!
Adapted from Lil Pachter’s recipe in Saveur magazine
Yield: twelve generous servings
1 large brisket, 7 to 8 pounds
olive oil for the pan
4 T. dried oregano
¼ c. ground dried chiles
salt and pepper
4 large onions, peeled and sliced thinly
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut in half
14 ounces diced tomatoes (I prefer Bionaturae or Muir Glen.)
4 c. chicken stock (homemade or Swanson’s organic)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- If your butcher has not trimmed the brisket well, take a few minutes to trim most of the external fat.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the brisket liberally and rub in the oregano and chile.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat. When it is hot, drizzle in a few turns of olive oil. When the oil is hot, place the brisket in the pan and sear it until it develops a dark crust. Flip it and sear the other side.
- While the brisket is searing, peel and slice the onions, and peel and cut the carrots.
- Remove the brisket to a plate and add the tomatoes to the bottom of the pan.
- Place the brisket on top and pour in the stock. Add the carrots, pushing them down into the liquid. And scatter the onions over top.
- Place a lid on the pot and put it in the oven. Braise for two hours.
- Carefully take the lid off the pan and continue to braise for another hour.
- Place the lid back on the pan and braise for an additional one to two hours, or until it is fork tender.
- Slice the brisket and serve it with a few carrots, and some of the onions and tomatoes. I also serve it with boiled potatoes with a little melted butter.