The Best Beef Brisket Recipe Ever!
Over the years I’ve had my fare share of briskets and they’re all different. Some are dry, and some are chewy. Some have a thin clear au jus, and some a thick tomato-based red sauce. Sweet vs savory. Carrots and potatoes vs onions or no veggies at all. They’re carved thin, thick or braised so long they’re falling apart like pulled beef.
But with all their subtle nuances, one-thing units them: the fact that every Jew thinks their mother’s brisket is “the best.”
Even this past weekend at a Baker Beach birthday party I got into a discussion with a stranger from Worcester, MA who said just that, “My mom’s brisket is the best!” And then she proceeded to say everyone who’s tasted it agreed. [Side note, when a group of foodie Jews get together, someone’s bound to bring up brisket]
But over the years I’ve grown to expect everyone’s bias towards the way “they had it.” I mean really, who doesn’t love the food they grew up with? It reminds us of being young again, and with our body parts gravitating slowly towards the floor, why not take the chance to reminisce about those days when our bodies were more…well….elastic.
But I’ve got news for you world- when it comes to my mother’s brisket, I don’t think it’s the best, I KNOW it is!
Every time I make it, people DO want more. It’s so good it even turns vegetarians into meat eaters, or at least that’s what it did to Emmy Rossum who was a vegetarian until I caught her sneaking a second serving of the brisket I made for the Passover Seder she hosted in Beverly Hills a few years ago. This brisket could bring peace to the Middle East!
This recipe has been in our family for generations, and like other “brisket greats,” it uses Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, but that’s not the secret, and neither is cranberry sauce from a jar, or a can of ginger ale, or a half bottle of red wine.
The secret of my mother’s brisket is all in a single ingredient—Heinz Chili Sauce. It’s a single note that brings this meaty symphony into one harmonious balance as if Beethoven’s 5th were all of the sudden playing in your mouth.
And be forewarned ladies and gents…if you’re in a new relationship and you make this brisket for the girl/guy you’re dating….it might just put them in a love daze and synthetically jumpstart their willingness to propose or accept marriage proposals.
So make this brisket for Passover, Rosh Hashanah, or a random weeknight, and not only will you have delicious leftovers but friends and family coming back for more.
P.S. Mom, don’t kill me for sharing your secret special recipe…I just feel like we’re doing more good by setting this recipe free than keeping it locked up in your recipe box. Love you!
The Best Beef Brisket ever!
- 6 lbs beef brisket
- 4 cloves of garlic sliced into slivers
- 3 white or yellow onions cut into ½ inch rings
- 8 large carrots peeled and cut into 3-inch sticks
- 4 large russet potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce (12 oz)
- 6 oz of water
- 1 packet of Lipton Onion’s Soup mix
- salt & pepper to taste
Start by cleaning your brisket, and by cleaning, I don’t mean rinsing with soap and water. Just pat it dry with a paper towel and trim off any excess fat. Usually, when you purchase a brisket, one side has a layer of fat and the other doesn’t. That’s the way you want it.
If the layer of fat is too thick (IE: it feels like frozen butter) then you want to trim some of it down…but in the end, you want the brisket to look red all over with a thin layer of fat on one side. Don’t worry about the fat too much, because you’ll be able to discard it later.
You’ll have plenty of fat trimmings to throw away….
This is what they’ll look like cleaned…oh, and the reason you see so many pieces of brisket in some of these photos….well…my stepmother hosted a 55 person Passover Seder last year and we had to make 16 lbs of brisket. Yeah, talk about exhausting!
Pierce the lean side of the brisket meat and make small slits with a paring knife going about ¾ of the way through the meat without poking through the other side (depth will depend on the thickness of your cut). Shove the garlic slivers into the slits and push them down into the hole you made with the knife, trying to get the garlic in deep enough so that it’s not sticking above the surface. This adds tons of flavor to the meat as it cooks.
Repeat this step separating the holes by 2-3 inches until you’ve covered the entire side of meat. Salt and pepper the meat on both sides and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°
Line the bottom of a roasting pan with the raw onion rings (you can use a disposable aluminum pan too).
prepare your carrots and potatoes…
Using a large skillet, or better yet, a griddle pan or electric griddle sear the brisket meat on all sides. The pan should be hot before you put the meat in it and you should hear the sizzle as soon as it goes down. If you don’t hear the sizzle then it’s not hot enough and wait a few more minutes. The sear is important.
Searing the meat does two things: it starts the caramelization process and ads depth of flavor to the dish, and it keeps the moisture in the meat during the roasting process. This step is critical and it’s important to sear the meat all around making sure it’s brown and there are no red parts left.
Place the seared meat, fat-side up, on top of the onions in the pan. Surround the meat with the vegetables alternating between carrots and potatoes. Fill in the gaps as best you can and make things nice and snug. Remember, everything is going to shrink during the cooking process when their liquids are released so don’t worry if it seems overflowing. Lightly sprinkle paprika on the veggies and over the meat.
Empty the Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix packet evenly over the meat only.
Over that, pour the entire bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce over the onion soup mix. Fill half the chili sauce bottle with water, replace the cap, and shake it, releasing the rest of the chili sauce from the sides of the bottle. Pour that mixture over the vegetables, allowing the water to spread around and pool under the meat.
Then squirt ketchup over the vegetables and the meat passing back and forth as you make your way from one end of the pan to the other. Look at the pictures to see what amount of ketchup I’m talking about here, but you can always add more or less depending on how sweet you want the end product to be.
Cover the entire pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and pinch the edges creating a tight seal. You don’t want the moisture in the pan to burn off because you want the brisket to braise and roast in it’s juices and those of the vegetables too.
Pop the entire thing in the oven at 350° and let it cook for 4-5 hours (typically need 45-60 mins per pound of meat).
When it’s done, the meat should be tender, but not falling apart. With the back of a spoon push all the sauce off the top of the meat, and then with the edge of a spoon scrape off the layer of fat. It should just pull away from the meat. After letting the meat rest for 10-15 minutes, you can slice it, and serve it with some carrots and potatoes and additional sauce.
*If you added too much water, there’s a chance the sauce will not be as thick as you’d like. The simple fix is to pour the red sauce through a sieve to remove the solids and then boil that liquid in a small saucepot on the stovetop for about 30 mins, or until it thickens into a concentrated gravy.
Once the brisket has rested you can slice it in whatever thickness you like (I prefer 1/2 inch thick slices). Using an electric slicer is the easiest way to get clean even slices, but a knife will work just fine. Just make sure you cut against the grain of the meat.
Thanks to the searing, the meat will be moist and you can see the garlic sprinkled throughout.
Arrange the slices neatly in your serving platter…
and then cover with the sauce and onions.
And serve the cooked vegetables and onions on the side.
Oh, and this brisket is even better the second and third day, so don’t be afraid to make a big one, because the leftovers are the best part…..especially as a sandwich with buttery brioche or challah bread!
- General rule of thumb is that you need to cook the meat for 45-60 mins for every pound of brisket you’re starting with.
- Call your butcher in advance and ask them to leave a 5-6 lbs brisket (or larger if you want) aside for you. Sometimes it’s hard to find larger briskets at the grocery store, but you should feel comfortable calling the grocery store and telling the butcher what you’re looking for. They’re happy to accommodate if they can.
- Costco is also a great place to purchase large briskets.
- Russet potatoes are best because they hold their shape through the braising process. You can use Yukon Gold, because they’re creamier, but I suggest leaving their skin on so they don’t turn into mush.
- Easier to get a good tight seal with the aluminum if the roasting pan you’re using has a lip.
- Use heavy-duty aluminum foil, because the less durable stuff can sometimes stick to the food after being in the oven for too long. If that happens, just make sure to remove any pieces before serving.
- The layer of fat is important in adding flavor to the dish, and keeping the meat moist.
- Some pieces of meat can be unwieldy during the searing process, so I like to have a set of tongs (and a cocktail) handy.
- I like to sear the fat side first, because that gives me a chance to test the temperature of the griddle/skillet/pan. I don’t care as much about burning the fat side, because that’s going to be removed at the end of the baking process, and the fat also renders in the pan creating some natural lipids that prevent the lean side of the brisket from sticking to the pan during the searing process.
- If you can’t find large enough pieces of brisket, you can cook several smaller briskets at the same time. Try to space them out in an even layer in the pan as if they’re just one large brisket. Or, you can cook them on top of each other, both of them with their fatty sides up and use half the spices, ketchup and Heinz Chili sauce on each one.
- If I’m making this dish in the evening and I don’t want to have to stay up for 6 hours to wait for it to finish, I’ll sometimes cook it for 2 hours less than I’m supposed to, but I leave it sealed with the aluminum foil overnight in the oven without the heat on. Don’t open the oven door and let the heat out either….just let it sit in there until morning, and it should be done. The heat keeps it cooking and from getting any bacteria on the meat. Then just pop it in the fridge when you wake up and it will get a little more time in the oven when you reheat it before serving.
- You can cook this in a crockpot while you’re at work during the day, but you’ll have to play with the temperatures and settings.