My mom’s brisket is remarkably minimalist: just meat, onions, salt, pepper, and the longest slowest braise you ever witnessed.
Until recently, I thought it was Daughter Bias that allowed me to make the following statement: my mom makes the best brisket.
But then I tried other people’s brisket, and I read The Brisket Book, which Alex’s parents got me for Christmas, and I now feel more qualified to explain why this brisket is one you should add to your repertoire.
First, it’s extraordinarily simple. As we know from the Beer Beef Stew in In the Small Kitchen, beef, onions, and liquid create remarkable flavor. And that flavor doesn’t really come from the onions or the liquid. It’s from the beef, which has lots of fat on it and becomes tender as you cook it.
Same rule applies here. It’s a given that you cook brisket for a while, but with my mom’s brisket, you cook it for as long as you can stand smelling the meat but not eating it.
As for adding spices and flavorings: Look, if you’re making tacos or having a barbecue, go for it. For classic brisket, plain rules, because holiday food tastes best when it’s what you expect it to be.
Plus, this brisket has only got two ingredients if you don’t count salt, pepper, and oil. The prep is easy–this is a great brisket to start with if you’ve never made one before. And the payoff is big.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Brisket with Slow-Cooked Onions
This tastes best the second day – so if you can, make it ahead of time.
1 4-lb brisket–a fatty cut is preferable
Salt and pepper
2 large onions, sliced
Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.
Heat a heavy, lidded pan at least a little bit bigger than the brisket over high heat for about 3 minutes.
Add enough oil to cover the pan with a film (about 2 tablespoons). Carefully place the brisket in the pan. Let it sear to a golden brown, 4-5 minutes, then flip and let the second side cook.
Push the brisket to one side of the pan and add the onions, tossing to let them all get covered in the oil. Cook 2-3 minutes, just until the onions wilt. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper.
Pour enough water to come halfway up the brisket–it’ll range, depending on the size of your pot. I use about 4 cups. Let the water come to a boil, then turn the heat as low as it goes, cover the pot, and simmer for 5 hours. You’ll want to flip the brisket occasionally.
When done, the brisket should be buttery tender. Taste for salt, add more as needed, and serve with potatoes.
Brisket is even better on the second day than on the first. If you’ve made it ahead of time, let the brisket cool to room temperature. Transfer it to a container, or put the whole pot in the fridge. Once chilled, you should be able to skip some of the fat from the top. To reheat, simply place the pot, covered, over medium-low heat and let simmer for at least 20 minutes.