My Top 10 Tips for How to Braise Brisket!
I love brisket. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, and nary a Passover went by without Bubbe’s famous version. Or maybe it’s because I live in Texas, mothership of all things brisket. As my crush Anthony Bourdain famously said, “Only Texans and Jews understand brisket.” So maybe that’s why. We can take something tough and unmanageable and turn it into something tender and amazing. Don’t try on boyfriends. Anyhoo, here are my Top 10 Tips for how to braise brisket to get the best brisket evvvver.
1. Pick your brisket! If you are braising, 3-5 pounds is a good size to fit in a braising pot. That will feed about 6-10 people. I always err on the side of more brisket than necessary. Last Thanksgiving I cooked a 12 pound brisket (three different kinds) plus a turkey, and my 15 guests dominated it all.
2. Quality counts! Get the best brisket you can afford. It makes a difference in the flavor and end result. Trust me on this!
3. Mmm fat. Usually, in a supermarket they sell the flat side of a brisket. It is less fatty that the point, but still usually has a nice chunk of fat on it. I’ll trim that down to 1/2 inch or so but you should definitely leave on some fat. Never buy a fully trimmed brisket! You want some nice marbling too. Fat is flavor.
4. Seasonings! You can get all kinds of crafty with your brisket, or not. I’ve cooked a nice piece of meat in salt, pepper and beer and it turned out awesome. At the bottom of this post are some of my favorite recipes.
5. Browning. You want to slowly render the fat from your brisket and get a nice brown sear on it before braising. This is going to add lots of flavor!
6. Braising time! I like to cook my brisket in a large Dutch oven (make sure it fits! You can always cut a larger brisket into smaller pieces and braise in a few pots or a large deep pan covered with foil works too.) Bring the liquid to a simmer and then lower the heat as low as it goes. You can also cook brisket in the oven at 200 degrees F, but I like to keep an eye on mine.
7. Low and slow wins! Every time. Cook brisket for a minimum of 4 hours, until it’s super tender but not falling apart. Larger pieces will take longer. And don’t let the liquid boil, that will boil the meat which will toughen it. Which is bad. The brisket will shrink while cooking (hehe) as the fat melts down.
8. Let ‘er rest. I try to make my brisket a day ahead of time if I can. Much like a good chili, the flavors meld overnight making the brisket even better! Plus, you don’t have to worry about finishing it by the time your guests arrive. Let cooked brisket come to room temperature, refrigerate overnight without cutting. The next day, slice cold against the grain, reheat in the sauce and serve!
9. Don’t forget the leftovers! There is nothing better than leftover brisket in a breakfast taco or sandwich. Nothing.
10. And don’t forget a quality recipe! Here are some of my faves.