Ruth's Brisket

February 11, 2017

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This is my mother Ruth's recipe. She didn't write any of it down, but I tried to for my family and friends. I think my mom may have adapted it from a recipe that required vinegar, substituting pickle brine since she always had pickles in the refrigerator. My mom served the brisket with green peas, fresh rye bread (easily available in NYC in the 50s and 60s), butter, and sliced kosher 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, the sandwiches got bigger as we delved further into the loaf of rye!

This brisket is perfect for a traditional Jewish holiday dinner, but it's great for any occasion. I had a "brisket cook-off" for 12 people, where I made Ruth's Brisket, Oven Barbecued Brisket (adapted from Mark Bittman), Sweet & Sour Brisket (Food52), and Lemon Brisket (Melissa Clark). We compared them and while we loved them all, when we finished, everyone agreed Ruth's Brisket was our favorite. We'd eat it anytime!
Marian

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 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)
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Mix together salt, pepper, paprika, and dried herbs in a small bowl.
  2. Dry brisket with paper towels and place meat on a plate with fatty side top up.
  3. Season fatty side with about half of the herb mixture.
  4. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat and add oil to slick bottom.
  5. Lower heat and add onions, garlic, and mushrooms to pot.
  6. Sauté until onions are transparent (but do not let garlic burn), then remove mixture to a plate.
  7. Turn up heat under pot to medium-high and put meat, fatty side down, in the now empty pot.
  8. Sear bottom of meat until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
  9. Season top side of meat with remaining herb mixture.
  10. Turn meat to sear second side, an additional 5 minutes.
  11. When meat is browned and there is a crust of brown bits on the bottom of the pot, remove meat to plate with onion mixture.
  12. Add wine to the now-empty pot to de-glaze, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan.
  13. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, pickle brine, and tomato sauce.
  14. Return onion mixture and the meat to the pot, with fatty side of meat up.
  15. Add water as needed to come halfway up the sides of the meat so that the meat will braise.
  16. Stir liquids in pot together to make a sauce and use a large spoon to transfer a little of sauce over the top of the meat.
  17. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
  18. Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters; nestle them in the pot around the meat.
  19. Cover the pot and continue to cook over low heat for 1 more hour.
  20. Remove the meat to a carving board and cut thinly across the grain.
  21. Return the meat to the pot and cook until the meat is tender and the potatoes are done (but not falling apart), about 1 hour more.
  22. Serve immediately, either from the pot or from a serving dish.
  23. Note: The brisket tastes even better the next day! Allow brisket to cool then transfer all to an oven-proof serving dish or a large pot. After refrigerating, scrape off the fat from the top if there's a lot. Warm brisket, potatoes, and sauce in serving dish in 325° F oven for 1 hour or in pot on stove-top.

More Great Recipes:
Beef|Brisket|Paprika|Pickle|Make Ahead|Hanukkah|Passover|Rosh Hashanah|Spring|Winter|Fall|Entree

Reviews (23) Questions (0)

23 Reviews

Marian September 5, 2018
Hi Lululand, Just saw your comment. The meat is sliced when it is halfway cooked, but then returning it to the pot to braise some more makes the meat very, very tender. It's not like it is being over-cooked. I think it's something to do with the science of braising!
 
LULULAND September 5, 2018
Ok thanks!
 
LULULAND July 15, 2018
Why is it sliced and then returned to cook again? Couldn't it be sliced after its cooked? Seems like it would dry out more if its all sliced.
 
S P. October 1, 2017
This sounds great! I wrote The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes. And out of dozens of amazing briskets and a few years of research to find them (they include super-stars like Nach Waxman, Joan Nathan, Daniel Rose) and gifted home cooks like Roberta Greenberg of NY's Temple Emanuel, you have the only pickle brine recipe I have ever seen! It makes perfect sense and I plan to make it. You can't have too many briskets! So bravo and a Happy New Year to all of us Brisketeers!
 
Marian November 18, 2018
Hi SP! I read your book this weekend and look forward to making some of the recipes. What an amazing work of love! I am proud to call myself a Brisketeer.
 
S P. October 1, 2017
This sounds great! I wrote The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes. And out of dozens of amazing briskets and a few years of research to find them (they include super-stars like Nach Waxman, Joan Nathan, Daniel Rose) and gifted home cooks like Roberta Greenberg of NY's Temple Emanuel, you have the only pickle brine recipe I have ever seen! It makes perfect sense and I plan to make it. You can't have too many briskets! So bravo and a Happy New Year to all of us Brisketeers!
 
Mary J. April 12, 2017
What timing would you suggest for braising the meat without potatoes? We have potato kugel with brisket at Passover.
 
Author Comment
Marian April 13, 2017
I think less time, but I'm not sure how much--the time is for tenderizing the meat as much as cooking the potatoes. Perhaps you could make the brisket with the potatoes anyway, just to help thicken the sauce? Someone might like the potatoes instead of or in addition to the kugel. And the kugel may be finished, but the potatoes would be good with the leftover brisket...
 
Ali W. April 5, 2017
Can this be made in the oven?
 
Baywife April 5, 2017
I did it in the oven -- 275 for 3 hours, took it out and sliced it, added the potatoes, returned it to the pot and oven and roasted an additional hour. That's 4 hours total. It was very tender, the potatoes were done, but not disintegrating. Will do again.
 
LULULAND July 15, 2018
Sounds like a great idea!
 
joan March 31, 2017
Is there a cookbook with this recipe?
 
Author Comment
Marian April 3, 2017
I like the idea of a cookbook! I have more recipes from my mom that I can submit to Food52. My mother didn't write down her own recipes, so it will take me some time to quantify the ingredients. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
catherine D. March 31, 2017
Could this be done in slow cooker after being seared?
 
Lee A. March 31, 2017
Yes, but you would want to use less water.
 
catherine D. March 31, 2017
Could this be done in slow cooker after being seared?
 
catherine D. March 31, 2017
Could this be done in slow cooker after being seared?
 
Baywife March 22, 2017
Are the potatoes peeled or not? How do they stay intact after cooking for two hours?
 
Author Comment
Marian March 28, 2017
The potatoes are peeled. I think my mother chose russet potatoes because they keep their shape pretty well (or they may have been the only potatoes supermarkets had 50 years ago). If the potatoes start to fall apart, it's fine. It helps to thicken the sauce!
 
Marit G. March 14, 2017
Tried this today, very good indeed. looking forward to it being even better tomorrow!
 
Marit G. March 10, 2017
what kind of tomato sauce?
 
Author Comment
Marian March 10, 2017
Just a small can of plain tomato sauce. I prefer to use something low salt. Marian
 
Marion October 1, 2017
I haven't made this dinner yet, but I thought I would comment. Funny my name is Marion, I spell it with an "o" and my mom's name is Ruth. So yes, I will definitely make this for dinner. Just a coincidence but it made me totally smile and I really needed a smile today.<br />