How do I know my mom's brisket is the best and my opinion is not simply a personal bias? I had a "brisket cook-off" for twelve people, where I made my mother Ruth's brisket, a riff on Mark Bittman's Oven "Barbecued" Brisket, Food52's Sweet and Savory Brisket, and Melissa Clark's Lemon Brisket.
While we loved them all, when we finished, everyone agreed Ruth's Brisket was the best. So now I know.
While my mother Ruth didn't write the recipe down, I've tried to replicate it for family and friends. My guess is that she may have adapted this recipe—which calls for pickle brine—from a version that required vinegar. Since she always had kosher pickles in the refrigerator, she likely substituted some pickle brine in its place.
She served it with peas, fresh rye bread (easily available in New York City in the 50s and 60s), butter, and sliced pickles. While my sister and I waited for our Dad to come home from work, we set the table. As we got hungrier, we made little sandwiches with pickles and the end pieces (the "heels") of the rye bread. Of course, if Dad was delayed, those sandwiches got bigger as we delved further into the loaf of rye. Great food makes great memories!
This brisket is perfect for a traditional Jewish holiday dinner, but it's also great anytime, and the leftovers are a real treat: The brisket tastes even better the next day! Allow brisket to cool, then transfer brisket and the sauce to an oven-proof serving dish or a large pot. After refrigerating, scrape off the fat if there’s a lot. Warm the brisket in the serving dish in a 325° F oven for about one hour, or in the pot on the stovetop until hot.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds brisket, first cut
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 8 medium white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons brine from kosher pickles, strained
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 6 to 10 ounces cold water (more or less as needed)
- 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4 medium)
Have you ever conducted an informal recipe competition? Tell us in the comments below!