I have published this recipe before, but it is tucked away as a page inside a post, so I am cheating a little by “outing” it for today’s heirloom recipe post.
This is my mother’s brisket recipe, and was also my grandmother’s and her sisters’. The three of them, Berniece (my grandmother), Harriet and Dorothy were all exceptional cooks of Hungarian Jewish extraction, and while they all developed their own specialties as they married and raised their own families in Ohio, they all made The Brisket.
My experience is that brisket takes the place that ham holds in gentile households; it is the Great Ancestral Meat on A Platter, emblematic of prosperity and family history. It adorns the table at a Hanukkah meal along with potato pancakes and homemade applesauce, but is also appropriate at a family gathering when everyone is together for the first time in months. It is meltingly tender, salty, and has no fat that can’t easily be cut off. It is fantastic with root vegetables such as glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes or (if you really want to do things right) a big bowl of farfel with butter.
In my mother’s family there is tremendous tension between the desire to eat every scrap of brisket and the equally powerful yearning to save enough to make perogen (meat-filled pies served in broth) the next day. For next Monday, I’ll try to get the perogen recipe out of mom so that you can all hit the culinary grand slam that has delighted three generations of my family for nearly 100 years.
(serves 10 but not if you’re going to make perogen the next day)
- 6# brisket single cut of brisket (Its very important to ask for a “single cut”)
- 1 large, or 2 small sweet onions
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325. Remove a portion of obvious fat from the brisket, but not all of it. Thinly slice your sweet onions
Place a large, heavy, oven safe roaster or dutch oven on the top of stove. Add a thin layer of oil or cooking spray, and onions. Over medium heat, brown brisket on all sides. Be sure the heat is not high enough to burn the onions, and also be sure that the meat is really brown. This will take about 20 minutes.
Pour off fat, and add water to barely cover brisket. Raise heat and bring the water to a boil, cover pan and place in preheated 325 oven.
Cook two hours, turning meat over twice. Taste a chunk at two hours; if its really tender, remove from oven and proceed to the next step; if not continue to cook until meat is tender and not chewy.
After removing from oven, place meat on cutting board and pour pan juices into a cup or bowl, and refrigerate. (Note: brisket may be prepared to this point a day or two ahead, and if you refrigerate the juices you’ll be able to skim off the solidified fat before proceeding). Discard cooked onions.
On the cutting board, slice the meat against the grain and return to the pan. (Again, you could refrigerate it overnight or longer).
Add 1.5 cups of cooking juice to pan and cook uncovered for 1/2 hour at 325.
salt and pepper to taste