My take on braised, fork-tender brisket starts with tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, and beef stock for a hearty, tangy base. I’ll also add in ingredients like brown sugar, plenty of onions and garlic, and a hint of smoked paprika, which bring a flavorful punch. The end result is a dish that nods to Texas barbecue brisket, but would also be right at home next to a platter of latkes on the Hanukkah table. One tip if you’re making this brisket for the holidays: Make it the day before, then reheat the sliced meat, onions, and braising liquid in the oven until warm and bubbling; the flavors really blossom after hanging out in the fridge for a night or two, so planning ahead can make all the difference. —Leah Koenig
Preheat the oven to 325° F and generously season both sides of the brisket with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other ovenproof saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and sear, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 8 to 10 minutes total. (If the brisket does not fit all at once, cut it in half and sear it in two batches.) Remove seared meat from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, followed by the onions, garlic, and bay leaves and cook, stirring often, until onions soften, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef stock, vinegar, brown sugar, onion powder, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Nestle the seared meat on top of the onions and pour the tomato sauce mixture over top. Bring liquid to a boil on the stovetop, then cover the saucepan and transfer to the oven.
Cook, undisturbed, for 2 hours. Remove from oven, uncover, and carefully flip meat to the other side. Add the carrots, tucking them into the sauce. Cover the Dutch oven and continue cooking until vegetables are soft and meat is fork tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more.
Remove from oven and and transfer meat to a cutting board; cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing against the grain. Arrange sliced meat on a serving platter. Remove and discard bay leaves from the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions and carrots and arrange around the brisket. Spoon desired amount of pan juices over the brisket before serving.