Have patience like your grandma does and go low and slow with this beef dish that’s traditionally served at Hanukkah, Passover, and other special occasions. But make yours even better. Set tradition aside, at least in the details, and infuse your brisket with some not-so classic flavor. Or try an innovative technique.
Brisket used to be an inexpensive cut of beef, which was part of its appeal, but climbing meat prices don’t make that necessarily true anymore. The tough meat becomes tender after hours and hours in the oven, and with your help, has a flavor that’s easy to love—like grandma. (Awww.)
First, make sure to brown your beef brisket to get that nice, slightly crispy outer coating. Then the long and low-heat cooking begins to render fat from the all-important fat cap, and break down connective tissue for a tender brisket. It’s best to use a Dutch oven with this dish, or anything that allows you to brown it on the stovetop and then cook it in the oven. When your brisket is finished, don’t forget all those glorious juices you’ll have hanging around. Serve them with the beef in a gravy boat, or use them to make a decadent sauce or gravy using wine, broth, butter and/or flour.
Before you get started, few things you might find handy items to have around when making a perfect brisket: beef broth, brown sugar, a good dry rub, a Dutch oven, a slicing knife, a big cutting board, aluminum foil, and hungry friends.
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Whether it’s to use up leftovers from a holiday gathering or for a casual dinner party, here are a few brisket recipes to try.
Ginger, garlic, scallions, and chu hou paste (made with soybeans, sesame, and garlic) transform this cut of meat into something new, at least for those not accustomed to Chinese-style brisket. The daikon radish is more traditional for this classic Chinese dish, but you can use turnips too. You’ll need at least four hours to make this brisket. Get our Chinese Brisket and Turnip Stew recipe.
Hungarian paprika lends a smoky-sweet essence to this slow-cooked brisket, also flavored with garlic, caramelized onions, tomatoes, brown sugar, rosemary, and bay leaf. You do most of the work the day before, refrigerating it overnight. Get our Spice and Herb Oven-Braised Brisket recipe.
This fork-tender meat is meant to be shredded and piled high between potato bun slices and savored by hand. It’s a classic barbecue dish that you make in your Crock Pot over the course of 10 hours or longer. Get our Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.
This one is perfect for the next day, or the day after when you simply cannot force down another bite of brisket as it is. Give it new life sauteed with new flavors like ginger, soy and scallion and fresh veggies like snow peas or broccoli. The fat and juice from the brisket will melt as you fry it, creating a gorgeous sauce when mixed with the Asian flavors. Get our Christmas Brisket Fried Rice recipe.
OK, we’re including one bubbe-inspired recipe. Irma Zigas passed along the recipe she taught her grandson Caleb, in which “California” means quick-cooking with prepackaged spices. That includes Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, red wine, Hungarian paprika, creamed horseradish, and cranberry sauce. Get our Grandma Irma’s “California” Brisket recipe.
Make your brisket like the professionals and inject flavor into the meat with a syringe, like the suggestion in this recipe. The serum is simply Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and other familiar ingredients, but injecting it is a shortcut trick that’s become popular lately on the barbecue circuit. Get our Shortcut BBQ Brisket recipe.
While we’re at it, how about a recipe for brisket’s tangy cousin, pastrami? This one involves time and planning as you’ll want to coat the brisket in a rub or mixture of spices, sugar, and salt and leave it to cure in the refrigerator for a week. A roasting rack is probably best for this one, so leave the Dutch oven in the cupboard this time. Get our Oven Smoked Pastrami recipe.
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