Help! I Have Six Pounds of Organic Kosher Brisket, Now What Do I Do!?!

organic-kosher-brisket-2

Photo by Ivan Soto

I don’t typically cook a lot of meat.  During my dinner parties I’ll sometimes have one meat dish, while everything else will be vegetarian friendly.  Dating a vegetarian has also sharply curtailed my meat consumption.  So in the menu planning for my “traditional” Passover Seder my co-host insisted on brisket.  I agreed, but only if it was conscientious meat (the fish I put into my gefilte fish were all on the “good” fish list).  To him this meant kosher, to me this meant sustainable so we started searching for kosher sustainable brisket.

This was a bit more challenging than we expected.  I had heard about Kol Foods the organization that provides kosher sustainable meat.  The problem we faced was that we only wanted one brisket and they sell their product in much larger quantities.  Of course we thought about asking around to see if we couldn’t find someone who might want to share a box, but because it was rather last minute (the meat order deadline was that day) it didn’t seem likely.  So a little Internet searching later we came across some organic kosher brisket that could be delivered in most parts of Manhattan.  That seemed like the logical compromise so we ended up with two three-pound chunks of meat, a coupon for our next order and a complimentary oven mitt.

But once it arrived, I wasn’t really prepared for the long flat flaps of meat I had sitting in front of me (see picture).  I had always thought brisket was more like a roast, but these were thin, wide and long.  How do I cook that?  I’m not even sure I have the right pan.  Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything was helpful on the basics, it even has a pencil drawing of a cow letting me know where the brisket comes from.  But doesn’t everyone has that relative that has that great brisket recipe – I felt that the pressure was really on.  And Passover being such a big food holiday, I turned to the maven of Jewish cooking – Joan Nathan.  In her Jewish Holiday Cookbook she published her mother’s brisket recipe.  It looked good, but I had thought you cooked brisket in wine.

Years ago, before I ever decided to become Jewish I worked for a Jewish man who shared his brisket recipe with me.  Well, actually to be more accurate he told me a wonderful story (he is an amazing story teller) about making brisket every year for Passover.  It’s a fantastic tale full of misadventures in the butcher shops with intimidating zaydes, lots of wine drinking and the family politics of keeping everyone out the kitchen while you cook.  However the story never really got around to giving out too many details about the “how to” of the brisket.

So I have a couple of resources at hand to help the basics, I have a bottle of kosher for Passover wine ready to help me get through the dinner preparation (and maybe splash on the meat?) but what can I do to really make this brisket stand out?  Because after all the effort put into procuring the meat, I would hate to prepare it badly.

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17 Responses to “Help! I Have Six Pounds of Organic Kosher Brisket, Now What Do I Do!?!”

  1. Ruby K Says:

    Momma K’s usually involves a tomato base/sauce of some kind. I’ve been REALLY digging bbq brisket/burnt ends as of late though imagine you can’t pull that off for a seder. Hrm. I’ll check around.

  2. David C Says:

    We had the same dilemma. I mean, exactly the same. Left over Kol Foods brisket. We hosted a “chometz potluck,” and served the brisket (along with a huge chuck steak, and a chicken risotto). The brisket we cooked following a recipe my wife saw on the Barefoot Contessa. It was really simple. We substituted some watered-down tomato paste for the tomato juice she called for, and I modified the cooking time since the cut was smaller. I cooked a 1.25lb brisket for a little under two hours. It was still a little chewy, but we then sliced, put it back in the sauce, and warmed it up in the Shabbat over for a couple of hours. It was perfect.

  3. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster Says:

    So, the most important thing to remember about brisket is that you need to braise it in the over, rather than roasting it. A tough cut of meat cooked in a small amount of liquid turns out amazing. And cover the pan while you are roasting it to keep the moisture in. Covering the pan is probably the most important step.

    I understand the anxiety: I just made my first turkey last week. It came out fine (and moist) but I was nervous.

    My favorite brisket recipe involves parve cocoa powder to make a “mole” sauce, and I don’t know if you can get that for Passover (I think I saw it at the Shoprite out in NJ).

    Brisket:
    Preheat oven to 350.
    Put a layer of onions on bottom of roasting pan (I like onions, so I use lots)
    Put in brisket.
    Cover with sauce of choice (or just put salt, pepper, garlic, and some white wine or liquid).
    Cover pan with foil and bake. ~45 min per pound, but err on the side of less cooking.

    Mole sauce (assuming ingredients are available for Pesach):
    3 tbsp cocoa powder
    1 tbsp dry mustard (can be substituted)
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp pepper
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
    about 1/3 cup consomme, clear soup, or water with soup powder

    Combine dry ingredients.
    Stir in garlic, vinegar, and enough soup to make a stiff paste.
    Smear all over beef or chicken.

    Credit: My Bubbie, Lillian Troster.

  4. Michael Makovi Says:

    Just to make a complete non-sequitor, I miss finding kosher bison. Less fat than a skinless chicken breast, and far tastier a meatier flavor (can I grammatically do this?), but alas, I cannot find it in a kosher version anymore, at least in my area.

  5. Rachel B. Says:

    Low and slow, baby. Low and slow.
    Make sure liquid doesn’t evaporate.
    Slice and put back in liquid to serve.

  6. ~M Says:

    Do you have a crockpot or slow cooker? That makes for super easy, super tender brisket, with virtually no work. I cook mine with onions, garlic, small potatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and red wine for 7 hours. The best aspects are knowing that I have a free oven to cook other yummibles and that I can’t burn the brisket. My mother cooks her brisket in a pressure cooker, which takes like no time; but I think my way tastes more tender and juicy. :)

  7. Mia Rut Says:

    Wow, thanks for all the suggestions. A slow cooker sounds like a good idea, but I don’t have one. Since these are large flat pieces of meat can I layer them on top of one another, or do I have to keep them flat? I have a large oval roasting pan (I cook turkey in) that might work although it is a bit shallow.

  8. Another meshugganah mommy Says:

    First rule of brisket – SEAR it first! In the oven at 500 for a half hour, then add your ingredients and liquid. Oven goes down to 350 for an hour per pound and an hour over.

    I had always made my brisket with the tomato or BBQ sauce – then I found a recipe where it is made with tzimmes right in the same pot:

    http://www.epicurious.com/reci.....mes-231787

    It is unbelievably good!!!

  9. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster Says:

    Michael, I’ve found kosher bison in the New York area, and friends of mine in Denver get it all the time.

    Mia, I wouldn’t layer the meat.

  10. Eli Says:

    I’m in culinary school and I took a meat class the other night (actually the first unkosher beef I ever ate… but that’s for a longer discussion i s’pose!)

    Here’s what the chef instructor did:

    season meat with salt & pepper.

    sear brisket (do you have a pot that could fit both? if not, sear each one separately – they could go in the same pot later for the long cooking… but definitely not ideal)
    sear it fat side down first, with a little bit of olive oil, and then after it has nice color, flip it and do the same.

    sautee slice (with the lines of the onion) about 7 spanish onions. add half underneath the meat, and the rest above it.

    put it in the oven at 350 or on the stove on low heat for about 3 hours. when it’s done it should be really juicy and fall apart.

    shockingly easy and so tasty.

    eli

  11. Phil W. Says:

    I made a pretty big brisket a couple of weeks ago on the stove top, in case you don’t want to use the oven. It’s actually not so hard, the main thing is finding a big enough pot. You can cut the meat into pieces and stack them in the pot (as you ask,) as long as they’re mostly submerged, and you turn them every now and then.

    The basic recipe I use comes from the Zuni Cookbook:
    - Salt each piece a few hours in advance, and reduce a bottle of red wine to 2/3 cup.
    - Add the meat to the pot along with a quartered onion, a chopped carrot, a chopped parsnip and turnip, salt, pepper, and some garlic cloves, unpeeled.
    - Add the wine, and enough stock or water to about an inch below the top of the meat.
    - Bring to a simmer, cover loosely, and simmer for 3-4 hours until tender but not falling apart.
    - Once the meat is done, remove it from the pot, then strain the liquid and veggies out, pushing the veggies and garlic cloves through the strainer to make a thick mash (you can eat it separately or add it to the sauce to thicken.)

    - Brisket in general is better after it’s sat for a day, and then been reheated.

    Chag Sameach!

    Phil

  12. Rebecca Says:

    Look in Martha Stewart Living’s April issue. A great looking brisket recipe in there (on page 80 I believe.) I just made it yesterday, will serve tonight. It looks delicious!

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  15. Oven mitt Says:

    Ingredients

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 (3 1/2 pound) first-cut brisket, with “fat cap” (do not trim)
    3 tablespoons sweet paprika
    1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus for brisket
    Freshly ground black pepper
    6 medium yellow onions, cut into thin wedges with root end attached
    1 1/2 cups sweet vermouth
    4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    8 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into thirds (14 ounces)

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Heat the oil a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Season the brisket generously with the paprika, salt, and pepper. Place fat side down in the Dutch oven and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 to10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.

    Discard about half the fat, then add the onions and cook over medium heat until browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Pour in the vermouth and cook until reduced by about half. Nestle the brisket into the onions fat side up, add the broth; bring to a simmer and bake, covered, until the brisket is fork tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Uncover, scatter the carrots around the brisket and cook until the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes more.

    Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, cut the fat off the top and thinly slice the meat across the grain. Return the meat to the braising liquid and serve immediately or, cool to room temperature in the sauce, cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve reheat in the sauce.

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