Brisket is the Holy Grail of Jewish food. The slowly-cooked meat is tender and moist with caramelized edges that pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes or literally straight out of the pan. I had never experienced that many layers of flavor in a brisket until my friend’s mom prepared it for a dinner party a few years back and it was the centerpiece of the table.
But, according to Gil Marks’ Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the dish began as poverty cuisine. “The often-impoverished Jews of eastern Europe could rarely afford to ‘live high on the cow’ — to buy the more tender cuts from the rib and chuck. [So] they learned how to make do with the cheaper, less desirable parts,” he writes.
Over time as families continued to cook them for the holiday tables, brisket was made into a rich traditional staple. Oh, and Kosher too!
- 8 to 10 pound brisket
- garlic cloves
- 1 quart beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup chili sauce
- 1 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Using a paring knife and your finger, stuff brisket all over with garlic. Place brisket in a baking dish or casserole and bake until browned on top, remove from oven, turn brisket and return to oven until browned on both sides. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Add enough beef stock to casserole to come up 1 inch on sides, cover with foil and bake one hour.
While brisket is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and saute onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Remove brisket from oven after one hour and add caramelized onions and all remaining ingredients, moving meat around to combine ingredients. Cover and continue to bake until very tender but not falling apart, another 2 to 3 hours. Remove brisket to a carving board and slice. Strain reserved cooking liquids and pour over sliced brisket. Brisket may be returned to casserole dishand allowed to cool, then served the next day. (Reheated in oven.)
Brisket is better if made a day in advance.