Brisket is one of those festive Passover and year-round dishes that appeals to carnivores of all ages.
Food writer and author Bonnie Stern says that she often serves brisket at Friday night dinners. “My kids love it and so do my friends. I make it for Passover and everybody really looks forward to it.
“If I want to try something new, I also have to make brisket.”
She says that while she tries a variety of brisket recipes during the year, her barbecued-style brisket is the family favourite. “The recipe has evolved over the years, but this one is adapted to use kosher for Passover ingredients.”
She says the secret to making brisket is to buy a good one and then cook it until it’s fork tender. “I always buy a whole brisket. That way you get a single side that is leaner and a double side that is juicer.”
In my own family, the most anticipated dish at our seder is my sister’s sweet brisket. It is the benchmark for rating all other briskets. And mine never tastes as good as my sister’s, according to my middle son. “Why can’t you get Auntie Sherri’s recipe?” he asks every time I serve brisket.
The truth is I’m lazy. I prefer to use a very simple recipe that is practically patchke-free.
A few years ago, I told my friend Arlene Charezenko that I had never made a brisket, because I thought cooking a roast was beyond my culinary abilities. She laughed. “Brisket is the easiest thing in the world to make.”
She gave me a classic brisket recipe with three ingredients – onion soup, cranberry sauce and water.
I have since made variations of this recipe by substituting duck sauce or apricot jam for cranberry sauce, especially at Passover. I often use orange juice or leftover wine instead of water.
And even though Son No. 2 complains about my brisket, he usually has a second helping.
BONNIE STERN’S BARBECUE-STYLE BRISKET
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground cumin (available kosher for Passover)
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. black pepper
1 whole brisket (about 8 pounds)
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
1 cup red wine or water
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 large onions, sliced
1 head of garlic broken into cloves and peeled
For the rub, combine paprika with salt, sugar, cumin, granulated garlic and pepper. Pat rub into both sides of the brisket. Marinate overnight if possible or cook right away.,
Prepare barbecue sauce by combining commercial barbecue sauce with wine or water, honey, lemon juice and cayenne.
Place onions and garlic cloves in a Dutch or deep roasting dish. Place brisket fat side up on the onion and garlic layer. Pour barbecue sauce over the brisket. Cover brisket with parchment paper and if possible bring sauce to a boil on the stove. Cover tightly and braise in a 325-degree oven for 4 to 5 hours.
If you can’t cook your brisket on the stove top, put it directly into the oven. Check every 45 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan and add more if necessary. Depending on the size of the brisket, cook until it is completely tender and can be pierced with a fork. If the top has not browned cook uncovered another 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove brisket from the juice and refrigerate meat and sauce in separate containers. Brisket is easier to carve if it’s cold, so it’s best to make it a day or two ahead. Skim fat from the sauce before using.
To reheat, cover sliced brisket with sauce in a pan covered tightly with tin foil. Cook at 350 for 45-60 minutes.