Nach Waxman's Brisket of Beef

By • November 27, 2012 91 Comments

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Author Notes: Nach Waxman took the best parts of two versions passed down in his family, weaving them into one simple treatment -- from his mother, a spectacular quantity of onions; from his mother-in-law, a genius trick of slicing the meat halfway through cooking (the brisket is easier to cut then, and this makes every slice a little like an end piece -- to many, the best part.) Adapted slightly from The New Basics by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso (Workman Publishing, 1989) and The Brisket Book by Stephanie Pierson (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011)Genius Recipes

Serves 10 to 12

  • 1 6-pound first-cut (a.k.a. flat-cut) beef brisket, trimmed so that a thin layer of fat remains
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (or matzoh meal)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 8 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly dust the brisket with flour, then sprinkle with pepper to taste. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot or other heavy pot with a lid just large enough to hold the brisket snugly. Add the brisket to the pot and brown on both sides until crusty brown areas appear on the surface here and there, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the brisket to a platter, turn up the heat a bit, then add the onions to the pot and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the onions have softened and developed a rich brown color but aren't yet caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and place the brisket and any accumulated juices on top of the onions.
  5. Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake. Sprinkle with salt and more pepper to taste, then add the garlic and carrot to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven, and cook the brisket for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and, using a very sharp knife, slice the meat across the grain into approximately 1/8-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. Check the seasonings and, if the sauce appears dry, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of water to the pot.
  7. Cover the pot and return to the oven. Lower the heat to 325°F and cook the brisket until it is fork-tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure that the liquid is not bubbling away. If it is, add a few more teaspoons of water—but not more. Also, each time you check, spoon some of the liquid on top of the roast so that it drips down between the slices.
  8. It is ready to serve with its juices, but, in fact, it's even better the second day. It also freezes well.

Topics: Hanukkah

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Comments (91) Questions (9)

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2 months ago hemptonv

Add about 6 or 7 star anis and red wine to braising liquid and it's really good!

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4 months ago Arrxx

I know this is tinkering but I poured some pomegranate molasses (not juice) on top of the tomato paste "schmear". It gave it a lovely sweet and sour taste. I think the slicing midway is the key to this recipe.

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4 months ago TishNYC

Yes, leave them whole. Both the garlic cloves and the carrot will cook until completely soft. I then mush the garlic into the other ingredients but retrieve the carrot to add to the serving platter, even though it's almost melted.

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4 months ago chef lew

I left them whole

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4 months ago Tracy Askotzky

I'm pretty sure I left them whole.

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4 months ago judy stolman

HELP, I am a cook but can't figure out whether the garlic is left whole or should it be minced. I really need an answer as I want to make it tomorrow. Thank you

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5 months ago karmaya

HELP! can brisket (esp 1st cut which has little fat) be prepared the same way i do a pork shoulder -- 250 degrees for 6 hrs at least = low and slow, in a half covered dutch oven. i stopped making brisket ages ago because the results were always tough and chewy. i want tender moist falling apart meat. and why can't i ever find the 2nd cut, fattier thicker brisket?

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5 months ago chef lew

You may consider raising the cooking temperature to 300-325 and make sure there is always ample liquid in the roasting pan/pot. Baste more frequently than with second cut. Still, although first cut won't deliver a 'debris' consistency it should be fork-tender.

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5 months ago elf1

Sooooo delicious! I freeze left over slices and the just thaw and sear in a really hot pan and serve with fries and rocket salad....Genius recipe indeed!

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6 months ago TishNYC

Genius is right. This is a superb recipe. I made a 3-pound brisket and followed the recipe exactly with the following changes: 6 onions, not 8; 2 medium carrots; and for the second cooking after slicing the meat, I cooked it for only about 1 hour at 325, then turned off the heat and let it sit in the oven for 15 more minutes. There were only two of us so I had leftovers which I used the next day in brisket hash topped with a fried egg. Amazing!

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9 months ago Miranda Selwyn

This recipe made my first Chanukah in my first home a SHOWSTOPPER!! And! there was no way I was putting Ketchup, beer, french onion soup mix, or any other weird subpar ingredient in the same pot as a piece of 8 lb. beef that I am going to spend cooking for a couple of days, even if every grandma's recipe says to do it! :-)

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10 months ago helicopterina

THIS RECIPE. Oh my. It is fantastic.

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over 1 year ago Gret

How/WHY

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over 1 year ago DeborahBr

Potato starch is an excellent substitute (in fact I use it for brisket year round)
Also, I was surprised by the comment from another that the onions had to be discarded. With long enough cooking, in my experience, most of the onions dissolve/melt into the sauce.

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over 1 year ago Tracy Askotzky

This brisket recipe needs to have the flour removed from the ingredients in order to serve for Passover. No flour allowed during this holiday.

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over 1 year ago dchu

Nuh-uh. Made this side by side with my grandmother-in-law's recipe (a traditional sweet-and-sour). Flossie's brisket won hands down for flavor. Besides, I felt so wasteful discarding all those onions, but they weren't tasty enough to eat on their own or reuse in something else.

The preslicing idea wasn't so bad. Some guests preferred that texture, some didn't. Maybe I'll do my next (Flossie's) brisket half and half.

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over 1 year ago PaulaE

How about posting Flossie's recipe? Granny dishes tend to be worth knowing!

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over 1 year ago dchu

Well, at the risk of getting reamed by my in-laws...

Original version: Chop and combine 1 large onion, 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup red pepper, 1 cup carrots. Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan or Dutch oven with the vegetables. Rub a 4-6 lb brisket with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Place the brisket on top of the veg with the fat cap facing up. Tuck in any remaining veg around the sides. Pour in 1/2 cup wine vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. Roast, covered, at 350 degF for 3-4 hrs until fork tender. If desired, brown under the broiler.

My tweaks: reduce brown sugar to 1/3 cup; triple the vegetables (they are just as wonderful as the meat, and there never seem to be enough); substitute parsnips for red peppers according to which one is in season; cider vinegar instead of wine vinegar; add 1/2 cup red wine; roast uncovered.

The meat ends up in a pool of delicious brothy juices. If you want a thicker sauce you can remove the brisket and reduce the liquid on the stovetop. Alternatively, one great-aunt was said to have pureed the veg with the liquid to thicken it, which sounds good though I haven't tried it.

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over 1 year ago dchu

oh, and "1/2 cup red wine"--not Manischewitz!

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10 months ago Dan Jacobson

Why don't you like to cover your roast?

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over 1 year ago Kimberly

My whole home smells divine. The neighbor wants to know what's cooking. The recipe was simple and I look forward to making this again for friends and family.

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over 1 year ago twinjadojo

I've made this recipe a couple of times, and am always surprised to find a final step missing here. So, a recipe epilogue: Once your braise has achieved aching tenderness, remove it from the oven [and let it rest in its juices, preferrably overnight]. Crank your oven up to 400f. Using any sensible combination of wide spatula, fork, tongs, clean human fingers, lift your brisket deck onto to a cookie sheet, permitting some of the juicy, jammy onions to accompany the meat, but generally separating the two. Moisten your meat with just a touch of your pan juices. Put your brisket into the oven and caramelize it for approximately 15mins. Meanwhile, you are free to manipulate your pan juices to your choosing (skim it, thicken it, separate it into onion jam and juice, etc). I have never suffered from a lack of liquids when making this dish, and even with a courageous initial browning of the meat, I find you will not achieve the crusty goodness pictured above without a final caramelizing.

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6 months ago Rebecca Heyman

Thanks for this tip, twinjadojo. I don't know if it's just that I used especially juicy onions, but my brisket is almost completely submerged in liquid/jus. Going to use your trick to get the "crusty goodness" that inspired me to make this recipe in the first place. Thanks!!

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4 months ago ashlie

I have a question about your method of caramelizing... Do you slice (per the recipe) or do you keep the brisket whole?

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4 months ago twinjadojo

I slice per the recipe. Basically, follow the recipe until the end and then transfer to a cookie sheet to brown at high heat while you have your way with the (considerable) pan juices. Hope it works for you!

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over 1 year ago ellemmdee

I love this recipe, too. It would be SO helpful if recipes contained "cups" or ounces of onions since a quantity is vague. It might prevent failures.

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over 1 year ago Gret

True that you can never use too many onions, as it will not harm the meat, just make it more flavorful. I always keep can of beef broth in pantry, in case I need more liquid in any recipe. Make sure you boil whatever liquid you add, before adding to pot.

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almost 2 years ago mike1213

If the meat is tough, just keep cooking (provided there is enough liquid) until it becomes fork tender. if you need liquid, just add water. As I use much more onions (actually less in number but larger in size) than the recipe calls for, I have never had any problem with a lack of liquid.

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almost 2 years ago Gret

It had to be the meat. Made it twice - always cook for AT LEAST 3 hrs, no matter how much meat weighs. Did not taste tomato either. Also important to slice it, as they say. The last time I made it the day before for company & reheated it, which made it also cook
longer. Everyone loved it and had seconds.