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Braised Brisket -- Cook-Off 43

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#31 Pam R

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 06:19 PM

When we cook the 20# big boys, we get them with the fat cap and leave most of it on. Unfortunately, most of my customers don't want a lot of fat, so the smaller ones come in without much (almost none). A good layer of fat is a great thing when cooking a brisket.

#32 snowangel

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 05:40 AM

I'm with Pam -- leave most of the fat cap on. You can easily remove the fat from the liquid later, and a person can always cut any fat remaining off the cooked brisket.
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#33 weinoo

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 07:01 AM

We were having guests for dinner last night, so I decided to make a brisket. My butcher (Jeffrey, at the Essex St. Market) had a whole brisket for me if I wanted it - 12 pounds, but I decided to go with the flat - sometimes they look like this on both sides:

Posted Image

but the one I bought looked like this:

Posted Image

By the way, it weighed 6 pounds, and cost $2.99 a pound, which is the same price Jeffrey charges for the whole thing. I cut it into a 4 pound piece and a 2 pound piece, and since we were 4 for dinner, I cooked the 4 pounder.

Interestingly enough, I've never really followed a recipe for brisket, I just cook 'em like I see 'em. But, checking out the CI recipe talked about above, my method is pretty much the same...and here's the other ingredients that go into it:

Posted Image

I like to brown the brisket really well, though some recipes call for cooking without browning; here's what it looks like after browning the fat cap:

Posted Image

Then, after browning the second side, I sauteed a few chopped onions till well browned, and deglazed the pot with red wine and chicken stock. Nested in it's bath, covered with onions and garlic and herbs, here's the meat before going into the oven:

Posted Image

After 3.5 hours in the oven at 280 degrees, the meat was nice and tender...(but you should check yours starting earlier). The brisket was removed and allowed to cool for a few hours, to firm it up for slicing. The cooking liquid was strained (and the onions were saved to add back) and defatted, and then thickened with a bit of beurre manie. Here's the meat, sliced (with a bit of fat on each piece), and ready to be covered with some of the gravy, covered and put back in a 250 degree oven to be reheated:

Posted Image

Everyone ate their fill, along with roasted winter squashes and red potatoes and garlicky green beans. And I can't wait to have a sandwich with the leftover beef.
Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
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#34 FoodMan

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 08:20 AM

The beef penang recipe I've been using is from David Thompson's outstanding Thai Food, and he parboils the beef in boiling water, drains it, and only then braises the beef in coconut milk. When it's done, you slice it into relative thick slices, fry the paste you've been pounding for 45 minutes in cracked coconut cream, and then simmer the whole thing in some more coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and a few other things. It's sublime, really showing off the tender texture of the brisket in the silky curry sauce.


Ah...it's been a while since I've cooked this and now I am not able to take it out of my mind. It is deliciouse.

Another reason to cook the meat in water instead of simmering it in coconut milk for a long time is that it helps keep the coconut milk from breaking down and retains its freshness.

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#35 Pam R

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:58 PM

I usually brown roasts before making pot roast (chuck/shoulder/minute/etc.) but I don't brown briskets. I have no good excuse -- other than my mom and dad (who taught me how to cook a brisket) don't. And that works for me. But now I'm curious, does everybody brown their briskets before parking them in the oven?

#36 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 02:05 PM

Always. I'm fond of fond.
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#37 weinoo

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:45 PM

I usually brown roasts before making pot roast (chuck/shoulder/minute/etc.) but I don't brown briskets. I have no good excuse -- other than my mom and dad (who taught me how to cook a brisket) don't.  And that works for me.  But now I'm curious, does everybody brown their briskets before parking them in the oven?

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Yeah, like Chris, I like to get a nice fond going. It just adds another layer of flavor, I think.
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#38 hathor

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 12:55 AM

We were having guests for dinner last night, so I decided to make a brisket.  My butcher (Jeffrey, at the Essex St. Market) had a whole brisket for me if I wanted it - 12 pounds, but I decided to go with the flat - sometimes they look like this on both sides:

Posted Image

but the one I bought looked like this:

Posted Image

By the way, it weighed 6 pounds, and cost $2.99 a pound, which is the same price Jeffrey charges for the whole thing.  I cut it into a 4 pound piece and a 2 pound piece, and since we were 4 for dinner, I cooked the 4 pounder.

Interestingly enough, I've never really followed a recipe for brisket, I just cook 'em like I see 'em.  But, checking out the CI recipe talked about above, my method is pretty much the same...and here's the other ingredients that go into it:

Posted Image

I like to brown the brisket really well, though some recipes call for cooking without browning; here's what it looks like after browning the fat cap:

Posted Image

Then, after browning the second side, I sauteed a few chopped onions till well browned, and deglazed the pot with red wine and chicken stock.  Nested in it's bath, covered with onions and garlic and herbs, here's the meat before going into the oven:

Posted Image

After 3.5 hours in the oven at 280 degrees, the meat was nice and tender...(but you should check yours starting earlier).  The brisket was removed and allowed to cool for a few hours, to firm it up for slicing.  The cooking liquid was strained (and the onions were saved to add back) and defatted, and then thickened with a bit of  beurre manie.  Here's the meat, sliced (with a bit of fat on each piece), and ready to be covered with some of the gravy, covered and put back in a 250 degree oven to be reheated:

Posted Image

Everyone ate their fill, along with roasted winter squashes and red potatoes and garlicky green beans. And I can't wait to have a sandwich with the leftover beef.

View Post

Gorgeous Mitch! I can almost smell it from here.
Browning is a good thing!

I have a question, does anyone else like a horseradish sauce with brisket?
We just came back from Friuli, and up in the northern parts, they shave fresh horseradish on all sorts of things. I think it would be excellent on that brisket. Save me a piece.

#39 weinoo

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 06:04 AM

Gorgeous Mitch! I can almost smell it from here.
Browning is a good thing!

I have a question, does anyone else like a horseradish sauce with brisket?
We just came back from Friuli, and up in the northern parts, they shave fresh horseradish on all sorts of things. I think it would be excellent on that brisket. Save me  a piece.

View Post

I've never seen it served with a "traditional Jewish" style brisket, as the sauce is usually made from the cooking liquid, but it sure sounds good to me...and rather than save a piece, we'll just make a nice, fresh one...and play around with some horseradish as well.
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#40 hathor

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 09:22 AM

Gorgeous Mitch! I can almost smell it from here.
Browning is a good thing!

I have a question, does anyone else like a horseradish sauce with brisket?
We just came back from Friuli, and up in the northern parts, they shave fresh horseradish on all sorts of things. I think it would be excellent on that brisket. Save me  a piece.

View Post

I've never seen it served with a "traditional Jewish" style brisket, as the sauce is usually made from the cooking liquid, but it sure sounds good to me...and rather than save a piece, we'll just make a nice, fresh one...and play around with some horseradish as well.

View Post

Sounds like a plan to me! :wub: :cool: :laugh:

#41 bloviatrix

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 04:31 PM

By the way, it weighed 6 pounds, and cost $2.99 a pound, which is the same price Jeffrey charges for the whole thing. 

I can't my head around this price. Kosher first cut brisket sells for $14.99/lb in Manhattan. For Shemini Atzeret I made a 4.5 brisket. Braised in beer and chili sauce with lots of vegetables. Served 7 for dinner and we were left with enough leftovers to serve the two of us for two meals.
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#42 Marlene

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 07:31 AM

I have received a brisket, the flat! (Thanks Cali!!!)

Pam, I would like to know a little more about the foil package method. Do you place the foil packet just on a sheet pan or in a dutch oven? I'm assuming with this method, there's no ability to make sauce?

I haven't decided whether to braise this piece yet or try the foil packet method, which sounds really good to me!
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#43 CaliPoutine

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 08:15 AM

I have received a brisket, the flat! (Thanks Cali!!!) 

Pam, I would like to know a little more about the foil package method.  Do you place the foil packet just on a sheet pan or in a dutch oven?  I'm assuming with this method, there's no ability to make sauce? 

I haven't decided whether to braise this piece yet or try the foil packet method, which sounds really good to me!

View Post



Your're Welcome. Thanks Kerry for delivering it to Marlene.

I bought the brisket for Marlene @ Wegman's near Buffalo. They only had the first cut and it was 4.49lb.

My mom made incredible brisket for all the Jewish holidays back when I still ate red meat. Isnt there a pretty famous recipe that contains coffee?

Marlene if you want the CI recipe, let me know.

#44 Pam R

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:24 AM

I have received a brisket, the flat! (Thanks Cali!!!) 

Pam, I would like to know a little more about the foil package method.  Do you place the foil packet just on a sheet pan or in a dutch oven?  I'm assuming with this method, there's no ability to make sauce? 

I haven't decided whether to braise this piece yet or try the foil packet method, which sounds really good to me!

View Post

Yes, the foil packet goes onto a sheet pan. Just make sure the foil is really well sealed. I like to use the wider, institutional rolls, but if I'm at home, I'll take two sheets of the regular stuff and put one on top of the other. Then at one edge, fold it over about 1/2 an inch a couple of times and then open up the two sheets and they should be sealed in the middle (does this make sense?). Do that so you have a few layers. Place the brisket and everything else in the middle and fold it all up, sealing everything. I can try to take some pictures later if you'd like a clearer picture.

Even if you use the foil packet, you'll get lots of liquid for a sauce -- even if you add very little liquid at the beginning. Brisket will give off plenty of juices. I often add very limited liquid - oil, lots of crushed garlic, onions (browned or . . souped :wink: ) and spices. Shmear the mix allover, wrap it up and when it's done you should have lots of juice.

When I made them a couple of weeks ago, for one of them I browned the onions and then added the garlic and spices and the wine and reduced until it was almost dry (but not quite). When it was cooked there was plenty of liquid that actually could have been reduced, but I was too lazy to reduce it.

BTW, how far are you from Toronto? Briskets are easily found in the northern suburbs and I'm sure elsewhere. Though, I'm afraid to say, if you're not used to buying kosher brisket you'll be shocked at the sticker price. $14.99'lb in Manhattan doesn't sound far of.

#45 Marlene

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:27 AM

I'm about 40 minutes from Toronto, but hubby works in the city so could probably pick some up for me if I can find it!

So, let me see. The brisket is not browned first? I thought I saw crispy bits in one of your photos once!

Foil packet, a few layers. I'm assuming then that the juice does not leak out. In the oven at 250? For 3 hours? Something like that?

And yes, I think I need a photo tutorial on the packet! :biggrin:

Edited by Marlene, 01 November 2008 - 09:28 AM.

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#46 Pam R

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:54 PM

You did see browned bits - but it wasn't pre-browned. It did that all by itself in the foil. (That doesn't always happen.)

I'd put it in at 275-300 for about 3 hours, but it does depend on the size and thickness.

I'll work on the photos.

Edited by Pam R, 01 November 2008 - 10:11 PM.


#47 Marlene

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 10:37 PM

Thanks! I'm thinking this will be on the menu Monday or Tuesday!
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#48 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 04:46 AM

I think the 14.99 is more a byproduct of Kosher first cut, rather than Manhattan. Kosher sells for about that a pound here (Maryland, close to DC) but you can pick it up in supermarkets for about 3.99.

Briskets all look good, but I have to say I usually take slicing a brisket as a sign of failure. I've cooked a fair number including (maybe explaining my bias) some for barbecue competitions and I find sliced brisket doesn't have that 'tender but chewy at the same time,' quality.

#49 weinoo

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 05:50 AM

Briskets all look good, but I have to say I usually take slicing a brisket as a sign of failure.  I've cooked a fair number including (maybe explaining my bias) some for barbecue competitions and I find sliced brisket doesn't have that 'tender but chewy at the same time,' quality.

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What do you do with the brisket if you don't slice it?

And how is slicing it a sign of failure?
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#50 StanSherman

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 04:07 PM

Kosher first cut brisket sells for $14.99/lb in Manhattan. 


Within a half a mile of the packing house it runs $12.99. That was last Wednesday before the bank started foreclosure on the plant. They are the largest kosher facility in the US so prices may actually go up in a very soft market. I paid $1.86 at a non-kosher meat locker today.

Edited by StanSherman, 02 November 2008 - 04:10 PM.


#51 brucesw

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 05:59 PM

I was at a market with a Kosher meat department today and checked out their prices - $6.99 a lb for whole, Cry-o-vac brisket. They did not have flats. At non-kosher supermarkets here whole brisket is usually below $2 a lb, flats by themselves are at least 50% more.

I usually buy whole briskets and separate them myself to fit in the pots I have. It's been years since I did brisket much although earlier this year I did buy one to make carne deshebrada with part and corned the other half.

I can't remember ever serving brisket sliced unless it's smoked but maybe I did many years ago. Usually I serve it 'chunked' or shredded.

#52 Pam R

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 07:50 PM

The slice vs. shred/chunk issue is an interesting one, and something I've never thought much about. We always serve it sliced - in fact, at work we'll chill it and then slice it on the electric slicer. That's how I think traditional 'Jewish' style briskets are usually served.

Are others slicing or shredding/chunking?

#53 victornet

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 08:39 PM

My favorite brisket recipe is Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Tyrolean Pot Roast (Brasato di Manzo) from The Italian Country Table book. It uses cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds to give a really layered flavor to the sauce. I also use a bit more vegetables than the recipe calls for for sweetness.

After cooking I slice it, refrigerate and heat the sliced meat in the sauce the next day. I used to shudder at the thought that my mother in law made her brisket the night before, but I'm a convert to this idea. The meat just gets softer and absorbs more flavor. I made a nice little 3-1/2 pounder last weekend during the football games.

#54 snowangel

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 07:17 AM

Are others slicing or shredding/chunking?

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For me, braised is sliced, smoked is shredded/chunked.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#55 patti

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:05 AM

Are y'all seasoning the brisket before browning?

ETA: Never mind, I now have the Cook's Illustrated recipe and yes, I season before browning.

Edited by patti, 09 November 2008 - 08:12 AM.

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#56 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:11 AM

Just S&P for me.
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#57 weinoo

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:54 AM

Just S&P for me.

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LOTS of SALT and pepper for me.
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#58 patti

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:06 AM

I cheated and used Tony Chachere's seasoning. I can't help it; it's a sickness.
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#59 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:47 AM

As I mentioned over here, I had the great pleasure of eating brisket tacos at Mia's in Dallas. For those who haven't eaten there, you're missing one of the great beef experiences in the world; for those who have, you know where I'm going.

Figuring out the Mia's recipe here would be a service to humankind.

As far as I can tell, here are the brisket basics. The meat in the taco has a remarkably rich beefiness that comes from the meat, the "gravy" (a skimmed and possibly reduced braising liquid), and beef fat. Yes, there's a good dose of rich fat added to the meat after it's been chopped up. I suspect that the brisket is salted and peppered and then is browned pretty heavily, especially on the fat cap, and that rendered fat and fond is used to fry up onion, garlic, and some mild fresh chile peppers (I'd guess ancho and pasilla).

The meat has been braised in a simple yet extremely savory broth. Besides salt, pepper, and those vegetables, my guess is that there's only a rich meat stock used as a base, poured over the vegetables and fond. I couldn't detect any spices -- or smoke, for that matter -- at all. (However, if a few bouillon cubes and/or Maggi seasoning found their way in there, it would account for that background umami....)

The waitress said that they braise the meat overnight, which suggests a very low temperature, and the product confirms a low-n-slow braise. I'd also bet that they either have custom-made braising pans that require very minimal liquid or that they use aluminum foil to encase the meat. (Pam, you want to weigh in on that?)

Once the meat is done, it's removed from the braising liquid and chopped roughly. I think that the braising liquid is then treated like a stock base: it's strained, the fat is separated out, and it's reduced. My bet is that the beef fat is used to fry some new onions and chiles, flavoring the fat; then those vegetables are lifted out and added to the stock to flavor it as well.

The tacos are served in corn tortillas with a tiny bit of jack cheese, the brisket, and a few wedges of onion and chile; the "gravy" is served in a little stainless jus cup. They need nothing else. Indeed, they deserve to be eaten as is.

So, based on that, I offer the following as a working draft recipe for dissection and debate here. I had the great pleasure of dining with Jeff Meeker, Chris Hennes, and his wife, all of whom I hope will weigh in here, along with anyone else who has enjoyed Mia's brisket. (You too, Richard!) It's not yet written in full -- no list of ingredients, incomplete steps -- but I hope it's a useful start.
  • Season a well-capped brisket with lots of salt and pepper. Sear over medium high heat, starting with the fat cap down, adding lard or oil as needed, until the brisket is well browned. Turn down the heat if the fond starts to burn: that's your gold.
  • Remove the meat and set aside. Sauté chopped onion, garlic, and chilis in the fat, scraping carefully and turning down the heat as needed.
  • When vegetables are nicely browned, add a small amount of stock and scrape up the fond until dissolved. (If you're going that route, add your bouillon cube, Maggi, etc. and dissolve it.)
  • Add the meat back to the pan and add enough additional stock to cover. (Pam, this is where a primer on aluminum wrapping would help. Would you just spread the moistened stuff from the pan over the brisket and wrap it up tightly?)
  • Braise in a low oven (200-250F) for several hours until tender. Remove from pan/foil and set aside.
  • Strain all collected juices into a separator, straining out and pressing on the vegetables. (You aren't going for consommé here, so push that flavor into the liquid.) Pour off the fat and reserve both liquids; reduce the stock if needed.
  • Sauté new, raw sliced onions and chiles in the fat over medium high heat until they start to caramelize. Strain off the fat and reserve; add the vegetables to the stock. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop the brisket roughly into 1/2-1" chunks and toss with some of the reserved fat and just enough of the gravy to moisten. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place about 1/4 cup of the brisket mixture in a heated corn tortilla with some of the vegetables and a T of shredded jack cheese. Serve immediately with gravy on side.
Have at it.
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#60 suzilightning

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 03:12 PM

braised a 4.5 lb point yesterday using a very, very old (free)reynold's oven bag. no browning. wondra flour in bag then the brisket sprinkled with fleur de sel, thyme and savory then topped with browned onion(1 sliced pole to pole), shallots(4 cut in half) and garlic (1 head, about 10 whole cloves). deglazed the pan with about 1/3 bottle of a rose that was reduced followed by about 1 cup of beef broth also reduced. 3 hours in a 300 oven.

tonight reheating the sliced meat with some of the gravy and going to serve with marlene's oven smashed potatoes and carrots with sage honey and dill. will post pics tomorrow if i can figure out how to reduce the images to post directly from egullet rather than importing from another invision board (thank you cookskorner) since i am a good computer monkey but a semi-luddite.
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