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Holiday Brisket

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Perfect for any holiday except for Passover, this brisket features a few slices of rye bread and a bottle of bear to thicken and flavor the sauce.

Like any good family recipe, this brisket has remained mostly the same with each generation tweaking the recipe, making it an heirloom all their own. The following is a riff on a family recipe spanning three generations that uses Lipton Onion Soup and Heinz Chili Sauce, two ubiquitous household items popularized in the 1950s. This update includes a homemade “soup mix” in the form of a spice rub, as well as the addition of prunes and cinnamon. What remains the same is the original use of both rye bread and beer to flavor and thicken the braising liquid, making a gravy with a rich depth of flavor (which is why it is not kosher for Passover and usually eaten with latkes at Chanukah in my family!). If you want a Passover or gluten-free recipe, try my Orange-Apricot Passover Brisket.

Essential equipment: food processor; cutting board; chef’s knife; peeler; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; bottle opener; Dutch oven; tongs

Spice Rub Ingredients: ½ cup dehydrated onions 4 cubes beef bullion ½ teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon parsley flakes ¼ teaspoon celery seed ¼ teaspoon paprika ¼ black pepper

A Note on Beef Bullion

"Beef bullion is not my favorite thing . . . it's made with lots of processed foods and can be quite salty. But if you find a good one made with dehydrated soy sauce and non-hydrogenated fat, it's a win. You could skip it altogether and just add two cups of beef broth to the brisket braise."

Brisket Ingredients: 1, 7-8 lb. brisket (not too lean) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 large onions, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 bottle of chili sauce 1 bottle of dark beer 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 3 slices of rye bread, torn into pieces 8 carrots, peeled and cut into sixths 1 cup pitted prunes 1, 3-inch cinnamon stick

It's About Technique, Not Torture!

The fattier the cut of brisket, the better the dish. You want the fat to help flavor the braise and keep the meat moist while it cooks. Once the brisket is cooked and has chilled, it will be easy to remove the excess fat from the braising liquid/sauce.

1. Combine the spice rub ingredients and blend in a food processor until a coarse powder is produced. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pat the brisket dry and season all sides generously with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the brisket. Cook 5 minutes per side, until browned and the fat renders. Remove the brisket from the pan and set aside. Cook the onions and garlic in the Dutch oven using the fat rendered from the brisket until softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, add the spice rub evenly to both sides of the brisket. Once the onions are softened, place the rye bread pieces on top of the onions. Return the brisket to the pan on top of the rye bread and onions, and top with the chili sauce, beer, and Worcestershire. Place the carrots, prunes and cinnamon stick around the brisket and cover the pot. Place the pot in the oven for 45 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 275°F and cook for another 2½ hours.

4. Remove the brisket from the pot and let stand to cool. Discard the cinnamon stick. To make the gravy, remove the carrots and prunes and set aside. Take two cups of the remaining cooking liquid and puree in a blender. Return this blended sauce to the pan with the remaining liquid and stir.

5. Slice the brisket on the bias, against the grain, and arrange on a platter. Place the carrots and prunes around the meat and spoon the gravy over the top.

Serves 10-12.

A Few Notes:

1. If you like a sweeter brisket, use ketchup instead of chili sauce, or use the chili sauce plus 1/3 cup brown sugar.

2. You may slice the onions instead of chopping them.

3. If you prefer unseeded rye read, go for it.

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