Nach Waxman's Brisket of Beef

By • November 27, 2012 • 74 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.

Comments (74) Questions (7)

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11 days ago Gret

How/WHY

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11 days 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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11 days 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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2 months 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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2 months ago PaulaE

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

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6 days 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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6 days ago dchu

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

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3 months 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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4 months 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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5 months 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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5 months 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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6 months 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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6 months 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.

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6 months ago DeborahBr

Coincidentally, I also made it today, for the second time. Brisket is always chewy until it is cooked long enough - I usually cook mine 3-4 hours at least, depending on how large the brisket is. Maybe that was the problem?

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6 months ago Miss Carolyn

This looked delicious, I made it today and it was a total fail. The meat was extremely chewy. I believe it was the meat however the tomoato paste left a strange overpowering ketchupey after taste. I got it at the farmers market yesterday morning, from a new vendor and will not be going back. I have never had to throw something away a meal before, the tomato paste tasted like a ketchup coating, I was very disappointed with this recipe.

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6 months ago chef lew

Did you baste the brisket after putting the tomato paste on? This will out the topping and keep it from tasting too strong and concentrated in a small area.

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8 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I made this today for Rosh Hashanah. Best. Brisket. Ever.

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11 months ago chef lew

This is a fine recipe, simple and almost elegant. I have cooked many a brisket, smoked them, slow-cooked in a All-Clad cooker, seasoned them Cowboy-style and so on. But this recipe, with its minimalist approach, is as good as any I've tried. I usually, purposefully, over season everything,, being from south Louisiana, but I followed this recipe with religious ardor and I'm glad I did.

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11 months ago mike1213

I have made this recipe for well over 30 years and it is well loved by everyone. I make it in the dutch oven (from Holland) that was my late mother's and the dutch oven is well over 60 years old. I use large onions because you can never have enough onions - it produces the only cooking liquid and tastes terrific with the meat. The one major trick, the cutting of the meat after the first cooking, is much easier if you let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes on a cutting board. I always hated cutting because the meat was tough - let it rest and it is a snap. I discovered this when I got distracted after putting the meat on the cutting board a few years ago, and was surprised at how easy the meat was to cut after that (I should not have been surprised since I know to let meat rest).

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12 months ago Arrxx

How could you ever say NO to adding a little (or more) red wine to an AKA pot roast (that's what brisket is). It reminded me of a story my mom tells about her friend Ruth. Back when cooking with wine was somewhat novel her friend made coq au vin. When asked about the results she said "it was horrible". "What kind of wine did you use?" asked my mom. "Why, I used Manischewitz," (a syrupy sweet Kosher sacramental wine best taken by the tablespoon, for those of you who might not be familiar with it) said Ruth. We have laughed about that for years.

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12 months ago Pably Wobbly

Bwahahaha! I bet that was an interesting outcome.

I shouldn't laugh too hard, I've done worse.

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2 months ago dchu

love it! Trying to imagine what that tasted like...

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12 months ago Stubor

How about adding a couple of Tbsp. of dry sherry, burgundy or chardonnay?

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12 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Senior Editor of Food52

Please do!

Jocelyn_2006

about 1 year ago jocelyng

I made this yesterday, and I plan on re-heating it today. Wondering what to serve with it as the sides. Thanks.

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Senior Editor of Food52

Waxman likes serving it with latkes and pickled green tomatoes. I loved it with mashed sweet potatoes.

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about 1 year ago TheKiku

This is quite possibly one of the best recipes I have EVER made! Unbelievably delicious and tender. YES!!!

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about 1 year ago Gret

Also, cutting it ahead of time & reheating, saves a mess/dirty cutting board , when ready to eat.

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about 1 year ago MaSaBeMama

this has been my go-to brisket recipe for years. Slicing the beef midway not only makes for easier slicing but has the onions melt into the meat so it's incredibly juicy.

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about 1 year ago MaSaBeMama

additionally this makes great bbq beef - simply fork-shred the leftover brisket and mix with you favorite BBQ sauce. I have made the brisket to make BBQ beef for potlucks. Works well to hold in a slow cooker.