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October 23rd, 2017

The Kosher Gourmet

Make the Best Brisket Ever!

Diane Rossen Worthington

By Diane Rossen Worthington

Published Sept. 30, 2016

Make the Best Brisket Ever!

Brisket and Rosh Hashanah just go together. Growing up, my family went to services in the morning and we all anticipated our late lunch. The table was laden with challah, apples and honey, whole pomegranates, braised vegetables, kugels, salad and, of course, brisket.

My mom's brisket was pretty simple: brisket, onions, ketchup and beer. It was so good. Through the years, I have tried my hand at different versions: brisket with wine and dried fruit, brisket with tomatoes and brown sugar, and brisket with autumn fruit. I also heard about a great brisket recipe by a man from New York. That was all I knew.

Then I met Nach Waxman.

The first time I met Waxman was at his amazing cookbook store in New York City. I had published my first book, "The Cuisine of California," and he graciously invited me to sign my books. There I learned that he was quite a cook himself. In fact his brisket recipe had become famous and, coincidentally, was the recipe I had heard about.

This recipe is considered the go-to for knowledgeable brisket lovers. But what makes Waxman's brisket so special? The secret is what he did way before anyone else: He sliced the meat midway through cooking.

Cutting the brisket halfway through the cooking process assures that each slice of meat will be evenly flavored with the sauce. And since the slicing has been done, it's easy to serve. He credits his mother-in-law for teaching him that technique, which is called "interim slicing." I love that he has passed this technique down to the next generation.

In "The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes" ($29.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing), I found this recipe that had been adapted from "The New Basics Cookbook." You'll find everything you might have wanted to know, and more, in this essential book for brisket lovers. This comforting potted beef braises tenderly and slowly in onion compote, with a flavor heightened by the addition of tomato paste and braised garlic cloves. And the tomato paste really adds an extra punch of flavor.

The key to tender brisket is the long, slow cooking process that keeps the meat from shrinking and helps the sweet onion compote bed encourage the beef to stay moist and tender. You can make this up to three days ahead so the flavors can develop. Just make sure to taste the sauce before you serve it to make sure to brighten the flavor, if need be. I like to serve this with sauteed green beans and noodle kugel or simple noodles.

NACH WAXMAN'S BRISKET OF BEEF

Serves 10 to 12

  • 1 (6-pound) first-cut beef brisket, trimmed so that a thin layer of fat remains

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons corn oil

  • 8 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered

  • 1 carrot, peeled and trimmed


1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. Lightly dust the brisket with flour, and then sprinkle with pepper to taste. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot or other heavy pot with a lid just large enough to hold the brisket snugly.

3. Add the brisket to the pot and brown on both sides until crusty brown areas appear on the surface here and there, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

4. Transfer the brisket to a platter, turn up the heat a bit, then add the onions to the pot and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the onions have softened and developed a rich brown color but aren't yet caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and place the brisket and any accumulated juices on top of the onions.

6. Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake. Sprinkle with salt and more pepper to taste, and then add the garlic and carrot to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven, and cook the brisket for 1 1/2 hours.

7. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and, using a very sharp knife, slice the meat across the grain into approximately 1/8-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. Check the seasonings and, if absolutely necessary, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of water to the pot.

8. Cover the pot and return to the oven. Lower the heat to 325 F and cook the brisket until it is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure that the liquid is not bubbling away. If it is, add no more than a few more teaspoons of water. Also, each time you check, spoon some of the liquid on top of the roast so that it drips down between the slices.

9. Cool, cover and refrigerate. To reheat, cover and bake in a 325 F oven for about 1 hour or until it is piping hot. Serve immediately.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host.

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