Judy’s Best Brisket

This recipe was adapted by me from my Aunt Florence’s brisket recipe.  I loved brisket growing up.  Although I liked my mother’s brisket a lot, it didn’t hold a candle to my Aunt Florence’s, which I was lucky enough to eat every Passover at her house.  When I saw that platter of brisket arriving at the table, my mouth was watering.  The meat was such a dark brown, rich color, and the flavor of the meat when it hit my tongue was heavenly; there really are no sufficient words to describe how good that brisket tasted to me.  I was always worried there wouldn’t be enough for me.  Luckily, there usually was.  Anyway, I started making this brisket around 1978 right after I got married.  I couldn’t wait to start making my aunt’s amazing brisket.  I followed my Aunt Florence’s recipe, but I did change the cooking method.  She cooked the brisket in a pot for the whole cooking time.  But I decided to start the cooking on the stove, and then transfer the pot into the oven for a few hours.  This method resulted in the brisket having the same incredible dark brown color and rich taste, but the meat was much more tender.  My brisket became the talk of the family.  I had achieved great heights in cooking when I mastered my aunt’s incomparable brisket!

  • About 5 pounds brisket, first or thin cut- you can use 1 big piece or 2 smaller pieces
  • About 5-6 medium to large onions
  • About 2 fat or 4 thin carrots
  • Kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder

Season both sides of the meat pretty heavily with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Peel and quarter the onions and put them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse the onions until they resemble the consistency of chunky apple sauce.  Put the onions on the bottom of a large dutch oven or very large oven-proof pot.  Then, slice the carrots into very thin sticks or grate them  onto the top of the onions in the dutch oven.  Place the meat on top of the onions and carrots.  Pour about 1 cup of cold water around the meat.  Cover the dutch oven.  Put the heat on medium, and bring the water to a boil.  Cook on a high simmer about 30 minutes with the cover on.  Then take the cover off and cook on high heat until all the liquid evaporates.  The onions and carrots and meat will start to brown.  Lift the meat up with a strong metal spatula and mush the vegetables around.  Turn the meat eventually when it’s really brown on the bottom.  It will almost be burning a little, as will the vegetables.  When that starts to happen, add more cold water, about 1 cup.  Notice the color of the gravy.  It probably will be a light to medium brown.  That isn’t dark enough.  Let the new liquid reduce down and evaporate.  The meat and vegetables will be browning more.  When all liquid is evaporated add another cup of cold water.  If the gravy is dark and rich, you are ready for the next step.  If you still think the gravy is not dark, repeat the reducing and browning process one more time.

When you have decided that your gravy is dark and rich, add one more cup of water.  There should be lots of gravy now around the meat.  Cover the dutch oven or pot (I use aluminum foil first and then I put the cover on top of that).  Put the dutch oven into the oven at about 350 degrees.  Let it cook for about 2 hours.  Take it out, uncover it, and check it for tenderness.  put a fork in.  If it is done, the fork will go in very easily.  It probably won’t be tender enough at this point.  Add some more water if the gravy has reduced too much.  Cover the meat, and put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.  Check again, and put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.  It might be ready at this point.  The meat usually needs at least 3 hours in the oven.  Sometimes, depending on the meat, I have actually kept it in the oven for 4 or 5 hours.  Now, if one of your pieces of brisket is tender before the other, take that piece out and let it cool on a late.  When the rest of the meat is done, take it out and put it on a plate.  The meat should cool for about 1 hour before you slice it.  Use an electric knife and slice it against the grain about 1/4 inch thick.  Pour all the gravy into whatever dish you plan to heat the meat up in when you serve it.  You can also pour the gravy into a disposable aluminum roasting pan, if you plan to heat it up in that.  Trim any fat off your slices, then place them in the gravy and smoosh the gravy into the meat.  If you think the gravy has reduced too much, you may add some water to it to make some more gravy.  You can put the meat into the refrigerator up to 3 days before you will be reheating and serving it.  I usually take the brisket out of the refrigerator one or two hours before I start to reheat it.  You can cook this and freeze it, but I don’t think it tastes quite as good.   

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