brisket

The Brisket

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Yesterday I wrote about the un-brisket. You know, why I usually don't make brisket for the holidays.

But I do make brisket on occasion and I realize it is THE specialty for Rosh Hashanah.

And I also know that no matter how many recipes there are out there for brisket, there are always thousands of people wanting more. Not just recipes, but information on how to make brisket so that your family wants it again and remembers your brisket as the ultimate dinner.

So here's what you might want to do: not only learn a good recipe, but also get instruction from the world's premiere kosher cookbook author: Jamie Geller.

Here's how: Jamie is giving video courses called HOME in which she and other culinary experts will teach you the best methods and tips for making the best brisket.

There are other courses too. Challah and Do-it-Yourself Rosh Hashanah (with recipes PLUS crafts).

You can get one or get them all. The price is $19.99/course.

But take a look yourself, watch the trailer and get the skills, the tools, the encouragement and confidence you need to cook it right.

Here's where: HOME by Jamie Geller.

Texas Style Brisket with Apricot Honey Glaze

If you’re a kid, September means school.  If you’re a tree, September means gold and red leaves.  If you’re Jewish, September means brisket.  That’s because Rosh Hashanah is in September and although I haven’t done an actual, scientific study, there’s little doubt in my mind that brisket is the most popular dinner entree for Rosh Hashanah.  Everyone’s grandma has a special family recipe, but even though the seasonings may be different from family to family and some versions are sweeter than others and some include vegetables while others don’t, Rosh Hashanah Ashkenazi-style brisket is typically braised in lots of liquid and served with pan gravy.  Unfortunately my family won’t eat braised brisket and pan gravy.  When I prepare brisket, it’s always barbecued, more like Texas-style. I have some relatives in Texas, so I guess it’s okay.   The meat is  slooooow -cooked first, so it’s soft. But then it’s crisped up on the grill (or roasted in a hot oven or under a broiler), so it gets those gorgeous, crunchy, blackened burnt ends that are slightly chewy and lusciously sticky.   Texas-style brisket with Apricot/Honey Barbecue Glaze. It’s what’s for Rosh Hashanah.                                                             Texas Style Brisket with Apricot Honey Glaze:       Brisket:   whole brisket of beef (about 8-10 pounds)  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  2 large onions, sliced                                                                                                                               Barbecue Sauce:   2 tablespoons olive oil  1 medium onion, finely chopped  2 cloves garlic, chopped  1 small chili pepper, deseeded and chopped  2 cups ketchup  1/2 cup apricot jam  1/2 cup cold brewed coffee  1/4 cup honey   1/2 cup apple cider vinegar  2/3 cup brown sugar  pinch of ground cloves  To make the brisket: Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Place the meat in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Scatter the onions on top. Cover the pan tightly. Bake for 7-8 hours or until the meat is soft and tender. Remove the meat and onions. Puree the onions and pan juices to use for gravy over mashed potatoes (or noodles, other starches). Let the meat cool. Trim any large pieces of fat that have not melted. Set aside.  NOTE: you can make this with a smaller chunk of meat (cooking time shorter).  About a half hour before serving, remove the meat from the refrigerator and place it in a large roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slather some of the barbecue sauce over the meat and roast for about 15-20 minutes, turning the meat once and brushing it occasionally with more of the sauce (you will probably use a little more than half the amount of sauce). Slice and serve. OR: broil the brisket or reheat on a preheated outdoor grill.  Makes 10-12 servings     To make the barbecue sauce: Pour the olive oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes to soften them slightly. Add the ketchup, jam, coffee, honey, cider vinegar, brown sugar and cloves and stir to blend them. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes or until thick.  Makes about 2-1/2 cups

If you’re a kid, September means school.

If you’re a tree, September means gold and red leaves.

If you’re Jewish, September means brisket.

That’s because Rosh Hashanah is in September and although I haven’t done an actual, scientific study, there’s little doubt in my mind that brisket is the most popular dinner entree for Rosh Hashanah.

Everyone’s grandma has a special family recipe, but even though the seasonings may be different from family to family and some versions are sweeter than others and some include vegetables while others don’t, Rosh Hashanah Ashkenazi-style brisket is typically braised in lots of liquid and served with pan gravy.

Unfortunately my family won’t eat braised brisket and pan gravy.

When I prepare brisket, it’s always barbecued, more like Texas-style. I have some relatives in Texas, so I guess it’s okay. 

The meat is slooooow-cooked first, so it’s soft. But then it’s crisped up on the grill (or roasted in a hot oven or under a broiler), so it gets those gorgeous, crunchy, blackened burnt ends that are slightly chewy and lusciously sticky. 

Texas-style brisket with Apricot/Honey Barbecue Glaze. It’s what’s for Rosh Hashanah.                                                       

 

Texas Style Brisket with Apricot Honey Glaze:

 

Brisket:

whole brisket of beef (about 8-10 pounds)

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 large onions, sliced

                                                                                                                          

Barbecue Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small chili pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup apricot jam

1/2 cup cold brewed coffee

1/4 cup honey 

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup brown sugar

pinch of ground cloves

To make the brisket: Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Place the meat in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Scatter the onions on top. Cover the pan tightly. Bake for 7-8 hours or until the meat is soft and tender. Remove the meat and onions. Puree the onions and pan juices to use for gravy over mashed potatoes (or noodles, other starches). Let the meat cool. Trim any large pieces of fat that have not melted. Set aside.

NOTE: you can make this with a smaller chunk of meat (cooking time shorter).

About a half hour before serving, remove the meat from the refrigerator and place it in a large roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slather some of the barbecue sauce over the meat and roast for about 15-20 minutes, turning the meat once and brushing it occasionally with more of the sauce (you will probably use a little more than half the amount of sauce). Slice and serve. OR: broil the brisket or reheat on a preheated outdoor grill.

Makes 10-12 servings

 

To make the barbecue sauce: Pour the olive oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes to soften them slightly. Add the ketchup, jam, coffee, honey, cider vinegar, brown sugar and cloves and stir to blend them. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes or until thick.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

How to Cook Brisket, plus Mango-Honey Barbecue Sauce

I never liked my mother’s brisket. In fact I didn’t like brisket at all until recently. To me it was always this brown, wet meat and the slices were too narrow and lean. And unless the meat was cut into very thin slices, it was tough and stringy.  My mother always used first cut brisket.  Then I met my mother-in-law, who used second cut brisket.  My parents and in-laws actually got along and were good friends who travelled together. Even so, you can imagine what each of the women had to say about the other one’s recipe.   My mother said second cut brisket was too fatty. My mother-in-law said first cut wasn’t fatty enough.  I thought both were still too tough, too wet and too stringy.  So I experimented. Because that’s what I do. And in the process learned quite a lot about cooking this particular portion of meat.  Which can be tough and stringy if you don’t cook it right. And wet if you don’t do something good with the pan juices.  I buy a whole brisket. First and second cut. Yes, it’s way too big for my family, but I freeze some of it (portions from the fatty and lean parts together to please everyone tastes) because braised meat holds up very well in cold storage. A whole brisket has enough fat to enrich the meat, so that the leanest portions are more flavorful. And after the cooking has ended, you can cut away any excess fat that you don’t actually want to eat.  The real trick to brisket is LONG SLOW cooking.  Here’s what I do: you can see from the photo that all I do is season the meat with garlic powder, pepper and paprika (and salt if necessary). I scatter a lot of onions on top and throughout the pan. I cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.  NO STOCK. NO WATER. NO WINE.  It doesn’t need anymore liquid. The onions and the meat give off enough.  I put the pan in a cold oven just before I go to bed at night, set the oven to bake at 225 degrees and go to sleep.  The next morning the brisket alarm clock wakes me up about 7 hours later with the most glorious aroma ever. (Actually it competes with the coffee, which is set to brew just about when the meat is done.) If you choose a smaller portion, say a first or second cut piece, obviously, it takes less time (let’s say 4-5 hours).  But don’t follow those recipes that tell you to cook brisket at 350 degrees! Your pot roast will rebel and show you how tough it is.  I usually don’t serve brisket with the pan gravy. Sometimes I strain the juices and use them for soup. Sometimes I boil the pan gravy down and use it for things like mashed potatoes. Sometimes I puree the juices with the onions. It really all depends on my particular culinary needs at the moment.  As for the brisket: none of us likes it wet. So I let the meat cool and put it on the grill (or under the broiler), and keep slathering the surface with barbecue sauce and cook the meat until it is hot and crispy to a mahogany glaze on the surface.   This is not wet, stringy or tough. It’s just dee-lish!  The  sauce  I frequently use as a glaze is not appropriate for Passover. But here’s one that’s just fine.   Mango-Honey Barbecue Sauce   1 large ripe mango  1 tablespoon vegetable oil  1 medium onion, finely chopped  1 large clove garlic, finely chopped  1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger  1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel  1 cup bottled chili sauce  1/4 cup orange juice  1/4 cup honey  1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper  Peel the mango and puree the flesh in a food processor. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the orange peel, mango puree, chili sauce, orange juice, honey and cayenne pepper. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until slightly thickened. Let cool.  Makes about 2-1/2 cups

I never liked my mother’s brisket. In fact I didn’t like brisket at all until recently. To me it was always this brown, wet meat and the slices were too narrow and lean. And unless the meat was cut into very thin slices, it was tough and stringy.

My mother always used first cut brisket.

Then I met my mother-in-law, who used second cut brisket.

My parents and in-laws actually got along and were good friends who travelled together. Even so, you can imagine what each of the women had to say about the other one’s recipe. 

My mother said second cut brisket was too fatty. My mother-in-law said first cut wasn’t fatty enough.

I thought both were still too tough, too wet and too stringy.

So I experimented. Because that’s what I do. And in the process learned quite a lot about cooking this particular portion of meat.

Which can be tough and stringy if you don’t cook it right. And wet if you don’t do something good with the pan juices.

I buy a whole brisket. First and second cut. Yes, it’s way too big for my family, but I freeze some of it (portions from the fatty and lean parts together to please everyone tastes) because braised meat holds up very well in cold storage. A whole brisket has enough fat to enrich the meat, so that the leanest portions are more flavorful. And after the cooking has ended, you can cut away any excess fat that you don’t actually want to eat.

The real trick to brisket is LONG SLOW cooking.

Here’s what I do: you can see from the photo that all I do is season the meat with garlic powder, pepper and paprika (and salt if necessary). I scatter a lot of onions on top and throughout the pan. I cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

NO STOCK. NO WATER. NO WINE.

It doesn’t need anymore liquid. The onions and the meat give off enough.

I put the pan in a cold oven just before I go to bed at night, set the oven to bake at 225 degrees and go to sleep.

The next morning the brisket alarm clock wakes me up about 7 hours later with the most glorious aroma ever. (Actually it competes with the coffee, which is set to brew just about when the meat is done.) If you choose a smaller portion, say a first or second cut piece, obviously, it takes less time (let’s say 4-5 hours).

But don’t follow those recipes that tell you to cook brisket at 350 degrees! Your pot roast will rebel and show you how tough it is.

I usually don’t serve brisket with the pan gravy. Sometimes I strain the juices and use them for soup. Sometimes I boil the pan gravy down and use it for things like mashed potatoes. Sometimes I puree the juices with the onions. It really all depends on my particular culinary needs at the moment.

As for the brisket: none of us likes it wet. So I let the meat cool and put it on the grill (or under the broiler), and keep slathering the surface with barbecue sauce and cook the meat until it is hot and crispy to a mahogany glaze on the surface. 

This is not wet, stringy or tough. It’s just dee-lish!

The sauce I frequently use as a glaze is not appropriate for Passover. But here’s one that’s just fine.

Mango-Honey Barbecue Sauce

1 large ripe mango

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel

1 cup bottled chili sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel the mango and puree the flesh in a food processor. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the orange peel, mango puree, chili sauce, orange juice, honey and cayenne pepper. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until slightly thickened. Let cool.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Cooking a Whole Brisket

In the world of Jewish holidays, September means brisket. It’s what’s for dinner.

At least that’s what I hear from most of the Jewish people I know and what I read in the papers.

My mother wanted to make brisket but none of us liked brown meat. We are steak eaters and, when it comes to beef, the rarer, the better. So she gave up on brisket and made a turkey during the High Holidays.

My kids — and their kids — won’t eat brown meat either. UNLESS it’s barbecued. Then there’s never enough of it. So I make brisket, Texas style, grilled and crispy-edged.

The problem with brisket is that even though it’s high on flavor, it can be TOUGH if you don’t cook it right. Most of the recipes I’ve seen say to braise it in the oven at 350 degrees.

Okay, there’s the usual fight about whether to put the meat in the oven or on the cooktop, but I don’t want to get into that one.

Either way, the best way to come out with meat that’s soft, but not mushy, firm enough but not chewy is this: brown the meat first if you like (I never do), season it to taste (I use garlic, black pepper and paprika), smother it with sweet onions (I use Vidalias but common yellow onions are fine). Seal the top with a lid (I use aluminum foil) and place it in a cold oven. Turn the heat to 225 degrees. Go to sleep. Wake up and it’s done. The meat cooks magically while you are in bed.

I love the smell of brisket in the morning.

Of course, this is good only if the brisket is large. I buy a WHOLE one, both first and second cuts, because it feeds a lot of people and has much more flavor. It also has more fat, which bastes the meat and makes it tender and even more flavorful (you can get rid of the fat after you cook the meat). And it is less expensive per pound. A large one also holds together a lot better on an outdoor grill.

If you only buy the flat, first cut, follow the same procedure but don’t let it cook for 7-8 hours. Maybe 4 or 5.

The point is: COOK IT SLOW AT A LOW TEMPERATURE.

For brisket lovers, you don’t have to do anything else, though it’s better to cook the meat the day before, separate the meat from the gravy and refrigerate everything. The fat comes to the top and you can remove and discard it. Then slice the meat, put it into a baking dish, cover it with the sauce and onions and heat it through.

For my family, I brush the meat with barbecue sauce and cook it slowly on the grill until it’s crispy on the outside.

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Barbecued Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce for Memorial Day

Judging by the traffic, Memorial Day weekend started yesterday, when it took me an extra half hour to get where I was going. I hate driving in traffic, but it did give me a chance to think about what to serve now that the weather is great and I will be out at the grill more often.

One of my favorites is Texas-style barbecued brisket. I make it a couple of times during the summer and everyone I know, even the people who say they never eat beef, eat this because you just can’t say no to it.

I don’t know if it’s the sauce I use — my own mango barbecue sauce — or the meat, but this dish is a winner.

You have to pre-braise the brisket, otherwise it gets hard as a rock on the grill. If you don’t want to bother with that, you can use the sauce for flank steak, skirt steak and also chicken parts or boneless breasts, without first pre-cooking.

Here’s the recipe for the Mango Barbecue Sauce:

Mango Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 large ripe mango
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup bottled chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel the mango and puree the flesh in a food processor. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the mango puree, chili sauce, orange juice, molasses, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until slightly thickened. Let cool.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups