Pioneer Woman's Brisket

Everyone has certain recipes that just work, the tried and true favorites that always turn out right. For my mom, it’s her Sunday gravy and baked ziti. For me, it’s pulled pork. It’s always perfect, uses pantry ingredients, can be done in advance, and freezes really well. (I really have to share this recipe with you).  It truly is perfect for entertaining.

My goal is to develop this down-to-a-science perfection for brisket. My husband’s family is Jewish, and on Jewish holidays, you eat brisket. I want to get my mine right so it’s the best one anyone ever tasted, every time I make it. Right now it’s decent but not perfect; it’s a heavily used cow muscle so it’s easy for brisket to come out very tough.  I’ve tried it in a 350 degree oven and a slowcooker, and both times it wasn’t as tender as I wanted.

So this is my brisket project. I’ll be testing it out a few recipes in the coming weeks, and researching the crap out of techniques so I can develop a foolproof brisket recipe, hopefully in time for Hanukkah.

My first experiment in this project was Pioneer Woman’s Passover Beef Brisket. Ree’s recipe was very similar to the recipes I’ve heard from my husband’s Jewish relatives, and I figured the wife of a rancher would know a thing or two about how to properly cook this tough cut of beef.

Ree’s secret to brisket is to cook it low and slow- 6-8 hours at 275 degrees.  The marinade is simple: ketchup, water, and onion soup mix.  The recipe takes patience, but it was great- the meat fell apart completely on my fork- perfect texture.  Well, mostly. There was one slightly thicker section of brisket that didn’t get quite as tender, but nothing some extra time in the oven couldn’t fix.

I made the brisket the night before I wanted to serve it, so I let it cool on the counter for about an hour and a half, then refrigerated it. The next day, I de-fatted it (the fat will rise to the top and solidify, like white chocolate), sliced it while cold, put it back in the sauce, and then reheated for an hour at 275, the original cooking temperature.

 I served this to a group of friends during Shabbat dinner and it got great reviews, even from my husband, who compliments lots of my food but never my brisket!

 I have plenty of sauce recipes to tinker with, but I know for sure Ree’s low and slow technique works.

Pioneer Woman’s Brisket, from the Pioneer Woman blog
1 beef brisket (I used a 5 ½ lb brisket)
1 packet onion soup mix
1 cup water
1 24oz bottle ketchup

 Two Days Prior to Serving: trim excess fat off the brisket and put in a large baking dish or roasting pan. Combine all other ingredients and pour over the brisket. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.

One Day Prior to Serving: Preheat oven to 275 and bake for 6-8 hours, depending on the size of the brisket. I cooked mine for 5 and a half hours.  The brisket is done when meat flakes easily with a fork.

Let the brisket cool uncovered on the counter for an hour and a half or so, then refrigerate.

Morning of:  Remove the fat that has solidified on the top of your brisket. There will be a lot of it. Slice the cold brisket against the grain, and then, using a spatula, place the slices back into the sauce, keeping them together for neat presentation.

One Hour Prior to Serving, place brisket, covered, in oven, and turn oven on to 275 or 300. Heat for one hour, then remove to a serving platter, pour sauce over, and serve.

Leftover brisket will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Enjoy! Anyone out there have any techniques or great recipes for brisket?

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