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Mike Wolfberg's Recipe for Beef Brisket

My mother learned this recipe from her mother and she passed this onto me.

Buy a large flat-end cut of fresh brisket; this weighs about 4 pounds. Do not buy an already corned beef brisket - this is a different thing.

If there is a lot of fat on the bottom, score it to inhibit the piece from curling during cooking.

Slice 4-8 cloves of garlic into slivers and stick them into the meat all over, so the distance between those places is about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in each direction. I stab the meat with a sharp knife and then slide the garlic into the hole. I usually do this just from the top. I suppose if it looks thick you could do this from both top and bottom.

Salt and pepper the meat all over. Put the meat fat side down into a roasting pan with a cover. I have a pair of round pans which I use; they are enameled metal and are 11" in diameter and the sides are 2 1/2" high. My pans can also be used on a stove burner, and I use them this way later.

Sprinkle about 1/2 - 1 tsp. caraway seeds on the meat. I am not fussy about a particular brand. My mother said to sprinkle a little nutmeg on, and I have not tried doing this, mostly because I don't like nutmeg.

Cut 1 - 2 large onions into slices and spread on top. Empty an 8 oz. can of Hunt's tomato sauce over it all. It sounds like too little, but it's enough. Add water, mixing it into the tomato sauce. I fill the lower pan to a bit less than an inch from the top. Cook in a 375 degree oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Check after about half of the cooking time to see the water level does not drop much. If it does, add some. The tightness of the pan will determine this. When doing this checking, be careful that there is steam in there; do not get a steam burn as you open the lid - lift it away from your hand.

Afer it cools down, refrigerate the meat in its pan at least overnight.

The liquid fat will congeal and rise to the top and form bright orange solid thin slabs. Most of these will be on the gravy surface.

Take the pan from the fridge and do not let it warm up. Remove those fat pieces right away while they are solid, and throw them away. At least, I have not thought of a use for these. Then, any time after this, you will slice the brisket.

Remove the brisket from the pan but try not to lose any of the gravy in the pan and on the brisket. Put the meat on a large plate or somewhere where you can slice and not lose gravy.

It is important to find the direction of the meat, namely the grain of the meat (much like wood grain). Be sure to slice against the grain, i.e., perpendicular to the grain. Slices should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick according to taste.

Put the slices back into the pan just about the same place they were before the meat was sliced. So the slices will be vertical. Separate them so the gravy is all around each slice.

At this point I often heat the pan to bring it to bubbling. In this way the slices pick up flavor from the gravy. Then either leave it out or refrigerate some more if it is a long time before serving.

Reheat in the pan for 15-30 minutes either on the stove or in the oven until it is hot. The oven will take longer. My mother used the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, and I find the stove top as effective and quicker. She also noted: if the gravy looks scant, scrape drippings from around the pan and add a little water.

I enjoy this with bottled white horseradish, not the purple kind with beets. I like Gold's brand.

It goes very well with Kasha. I prefer coarse granulation. I buy Wolff's brand, since that is all I ever see. When I make this I use chicken fat to fry one medium onion (for 1 cup of kasha). After this is fried you can add the chicken stock to it. In a separate pan you mix the kasha with an egg and cook, following the directions on the package. After it is mixed around on the heat for a while, you then add in the contents of the other pan, following the directions. Then I like to put the result into a large oven baking dish and put it under the broiler for 5-15 minutes, stirring a few times. This makes some of it crunchy. If you prefer it soft, don't do this. You can also add in cooked pasta before the broiling. Pasta shaped like bow ties is traditional, but farfale (butterfly-shaped) pasta is almost the same.

back to the top of this page This page, maintained by Mike Wolfberg, was last updated on November 06, 2007.