Brisket is the ideal cut for braising, as it takes hours of slow cooking to soften this otherwise tough-as-leather cut. Sadly, this patience is often rewarded with shreds of dry, chewy meat in dull, greasy sauce. For this recipe, we decided to make a flavor-packed braising liquid with onions, brown sugar, wine, and aromatics that would later act as a savory serving sauce. Browning the brisket before braising it gave it deeper, meatier flavor, and sealing the brisket with the sauce into a foil packet while cooking produced
beautifully moist meat. We also found that we could easily make this dish ahead of time with excellent results: After braising the brisket, we let the meat stand overnight in the refrigerator in the braising liquid, which helped to keep the brisket moist and flavorful by allowing it to reabsorb some of the sauce. As an added benefit, when the sauce cooled, the excess fat separated from it and solidified on top, making it a cinch to remove the next day. The overnight refrigeration also made slicing the brisket simple. If you prefer a spicy sauce, increase the amount of cayenne to ¼ teaspoon. You will need 18-inch-wide heavy-duty foil for this recipe. Serve over mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Total Time: 5 Hours 45 Minutes
- 1 (4-to 5-pound) beef brisket, flat cut preferred, fat trimmed to ¼ inch
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 3 large onions, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 13 by 9-inch baking dish with two 24-inch by 18-inch pieces heavy-duty aluminum foil, positioning them perpendicular to each other and allowing excess to hang over edge of dish. Pat brisket dry with paper towels and place fat side up on cutting board. Using dinner fork, poke holes in meat through fat layer about 1 inch apart. Season both sides of brisket with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place brisket fat side up in skillet; brisket may ride up sides of pan, but will shrink as it cooks. Weight brisket with heavy Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet and cook until well browned, about 7 minutes. Remove Dutch oven, flip brisket, and cook on second side, without weight, until well browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer brisket to platter.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat left in skillet, add onions, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste browns, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, paprika, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir until well combined. Stir in broth, wine, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Bring mixture to simmer and cook until fully thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Pour sauce and onions into prepared baking dish. Nestle brisket fat side up in into dish. Fold foil extensions over and crimp to seal. Transfer to oven and cook until brisket is tender and fork slips easily in and out of meat, 3½ to 4 hours; to test for doneness, open foil with caution and watch for steam.
- Remove brisket from oven and let sit at room temperature, still wrapped in foil, for 1 hour. Carefully open foil and transfer brisket to carving board. Pour braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator and let settle for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs from strained onions; reserve onions.
- Pour defatted juices into medium saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened and measures 2 cups, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir onions and vinegar into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice brisket against grain into ¼-inch-thick slices, arrange in 13 by 9-inch baking dish, and pour sauce over top. Serve.