The key to the best brisket rests on one thing: a slow-cooking method. Whether that be smoking a Texas-BBQ-style cut of meat or simmering a holiday-ready version in an herby red wine braise (as we do here), depends on the mood you’d like to evoke. Either way, fork-tender brisket can be yours, whether it’s your first time hosting dinner or your 50th.
Look for a 5-pound brisket labeled “flat cut” or “first cut.” It’s leaner than the point or deckle, but it does come with a fat cap. If your butcher hasn’t cut away this excess layer of fat, trim it yourself to no more than ¼" thick. Use a pan with plenty of space to brown the large piece of meat (if you don’t have one, cut the brisket in half and brown one piece at a time), and a roasting pan that can accommodate the aromatics and braising liquid.
As with most beef brisket recipes, this one has a long cook time (about 3½ hours), but it’s mostly hands-off. Let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes on a platter or cutting board with a well or grooves before slicing it against the grain into thin ribbons.
One vital step before serving: Discard the vegetables used to flavor the sauce. After such lengthy cooking, they’ll be mushy and flavorless, having given everything they had to the broth. Cooking fresh young carrots and pearl onions to serve alongside may feel superfluous, but this ensures you have a crisp-tender, golden-browned side dish. You’ll also want some mashed potatoes, polenta, or crispy potatoes to soak up the richly flavored jus.
Once you’ve got the handle on braising brisket, try corned beef or flash-grilling brisket slices with a bunch of garlic cloves and a brown sugar-soy marinade.
5-lb. flat-cut beef brisket, fat trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
cups finely chopped onions (3–4 large onions)
cup finely chopped carrot (from about 2 medium carrots)
cup finely chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
Tbsp. chopped garlic (from about 1 head of garlic)
750-ml bottles dry red wine
large fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided
cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium beef broth
lb. young carrots, peeled
oz. pearl onions, blanched, peeled
Place rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Season one 5-pound flat-cut beef brisket, fat trimmed all over with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in Dutch oven or other heavy large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook brisket until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to large roasting pan.Step 2
Return sauté pan to stovetop and add 7 cups finely chopped onions (3–4 large onions), 1 cup finely chopped carrot (from about 2 medium carrots), 1 cup finely chopped celery (about 3 stalks), and 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic (from about 1 head of garlic). Cook, stirring occasionally until browned and starting to soften, 8–10 minutes. Pour in two 750-ml bottles dry red wine; using wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add 8 large fresh thyme sprigs, and 2 bay leaves and bring to boil. Simmer until liquid is reduced to 5 cups, 10–12 minutes. Add 8 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium beef broth and return to boil. Pour wine mixture over brisket to fill two thirds of roasting pan; reserve remaining wine mixture.Step 3
Transfer brisket to oven and braise, uncovered, until very tender, turning and basting occasionally and adding more wine mixture as necessary to keep pan two-thirds full, about 3½ hours.Step 4
Transfer brisket to platter. Strain pan juices into 4-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids. Discard solids. Add enough reserved wine mixture to measure 3½ cups. Season jus with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.Step 5
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 lb. young carrots, peeled, 12 oz. pearl onions, blanched, peeled, and 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Cover and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.Step 6
Thinly slice brisket against the grain and serve with red wine sauce and cooked carrots and pearl onions.
Do ahead: Brisket be braised 1 day ahead. Cover meat and sauce separately in airtight containers; chill. Arrange meat in baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil; reheat in 350° oven until warmed through about 40 minutes. Rewarm sauce.
Editor’s note: This recipe was first printed in August 1998. Head this way for more of our favorite Rosh Hashanah recipes →