Make Ahead

My Family's Passover Brisket

March 11, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

The matriarch of my family, Libbie Miller, makes a version of this recipe every year for Passover, but you can certainly enjoy this brisket on any occasion. This brisket is tender and moist, with a rich, sweet sauce that derives its flavor from paprika, slow-cooked onions, and the roasted brisket juices. —Josh Cohen

Test Kitchen Notes

The starting point for corned beef and pastrami, brisket is a tough cut that could use some tough love. Because it hails from the breast of the animal, there’s lots of collagen, which takes lots of time to melt into something supple, juicy, and holiday-worthy. Technically speaking, brisket comes in a first cut (aka flat cut) and second cut (aka point cut). The former is leaner and easier to dry out, while the latter is fattier and harder to mess up. Which probably has you thinking: Why would anyone opt for the former, particularly for a special occasion like Passover? Because it’s what’s most readily available. And many supermarkets don’t offer the option to pick and choose. Luckily for us, a good recipe means a good brisket, no matter the cut, and that’s where this Passover-favorite method from Josh Cohen, inspired by his family's matriarch Libbie Miller, comes in. The tangy, tomatoey braise takes at least 3 hours in the oven—emphasis on at least. If the meat isn’t buttery tender at that point, keep going, and don’t rush it. The ingredients themselves are more flexible: Depending on your religious observation, if you don’t want to mix meat with the anchovies in Worcestershire sauce, you can skip it. In lieu of Tabasco, swap in your go-to, Passover-friendly kicky condiment. And if you’re looking for even more heat, why not substitute hot paprika instead of sweet? But, whatever you do, don’t skip the last step: blitzing together the braising liquid and braised onions for a sauce you’ll want to slurp by the spoonful. Now tell us, if you celebrate Passover, what are your family’s must-have dishes? We’d love to hear in the comments below. —The Editors

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
  • 3 1/2 pounds brisket
  • Canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 dashes Tabasco sauce (or another spicy condiment)
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
In This Recipe
  1. Season the brisket aggressively with salt on all sides. Set a large Dutch oven or pot over high heat, and add just enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pot. When the oil begins to lightly smoke, add the brisket and let it cook undisturbed until it browns nicely on one side. Flip it and brown the other side. Remove the brisket to a large plate or rimmed baking sheet. Discard the excess oil from the pot, and set the pot aside for a moment. Do not wash the pot.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a mixing bowl, add the paprika, brown sugar, tomato paste, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix to form a paste. Cover the outside of the brisket in this paste. Return the brisket to the pot. Scatter the onions and garlic on top of the brisket. Add the water, bay leaf, and cider vinegar. Set the pot over high heat. When the water begins to boil, place a lid on top of the pot and transfer the pot to the oven.
  3. Cook the brisket with the lid on for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, flip the brisket over in the pot and then continue cooking with the lid on for an additional 90 minutes. When the brisket is finished cooking, it should be soft and very tender.
  4. Remove the brisket from the oven. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the remaining contents of the pot (cooked onions and cooking liquid) to a blender, and blend on high until the mixture becomes a smooth purée. Taste this sauce, and adjust the flavor with salt and/or cider vinegar as necessary. Slice the brisket against the grain, pour the pureed sauce over the brisket, and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Abigail Bezuidenhout
    Abigail Bezuidenhout
  • DK
  • scott.finkelstein.5
  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
Josh Cohen

Recipe by: Josh Cohen

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.

10 Reviews

Greg March 14, 2021
The good news is that people who want to keep Kosher are generally aware of the rules and can decide for themselves the positions they want to take (some change out the silver and plates between the Gefilte Fish and the main course while others would never think of such a thing!) or do the research to be sure they're making the right choices -- for them.

It's the vinegar that makes the Tabasco questionable, for instance. But, some people aren't going to make the choice to care about which kind of alcohol was fermented to make the vinegar that went into the tabasco. Corn, ok. Barley, not so much. But, again, drilling down to that level of detail isn't for everyone.

But, here, everyone gets to be right. And, I would argue that if this level of detail is very important to you for what goes on in your kitchen, then you should never take ANY recipe at face value that includes a few dashes of any sauce out of a pre-made mixture. But, I'm guessing for the crowd that knows all the rules are already double checking everything anyway.
Abigail B. April 16, 2016
This looks absolutely delicious. Ok and I think adding a cup of wine instead of water will really make this dish. (Don't shoot me down I am not Jewish) But enjoy food from all cultures and countries. :)
GsR April 14, 2016
Tabasco sauce is not kosher for Passover. Please be aware.
GsR April 14, 2016
And neither is Worcester sauce. Not to mention as its made with fish it's not kosher to mix with meat.
You really should make your readers aware that your recipies are not kosher, let alone kosher for Passover. Perhaps before posting a recipie for a Jewish holiday you should run it past a competent rabbi.
DK April 14, 2016
Please be aware......There are alternative hot sauces that are KFP and Liebers makes a KFP Worcestershire sauce. Let's also review kosher rules, fish is parve so it can be mixed with meat. Any other "facts" you want me to debunk?
GsR April 14, 2016
While there may be kosher Passover hot sauce, actually many, Tabasco is not. And while fish is parev and can be eaten at the same meal, fish may not be mixed into meat dishes. Many in fact change silverware and plates after a fish course before eating meat. Any fact you would like me to debunk? . Please check the schulchan aruch, the gemmorah, and rabbinic opinion first. (PS, I do have simcha)
scott.finkelstein.5 March 30, 2017
Fish&meat is a sectarian thing.
GsR March 30, 2017
Not sure what you mean, but it is a halachic thing!
GsR March 31, 2017
Not exactly sure what you mean, but mixing fish and meat is a halachic thing!
Rosalind P. March 26, 2021
You have a simcha? Who doesn't at some point in their life? BUT not so many have a smicha.