Braised Brisket of Beef

Serving Size: 8
Preparation Time: 3:00

Dark Mirepoix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

  1. Place the diced vegetables and garlic as a bed in the bottom of a roast pan that has a cover. The pan should be a little higher than the brisket. Set the brisket on the bed of dark mirepoix vegetables, and pour the tomato purée around it. You can use chopped fresh plum tomatoes instead, or crushed canned tomatoes. Dust the flour over the brisket and the bed of mirepoix. Add the aromatics, bay leaf, crushed peppercorns and thyme to the pan. Place the peeled potatoes around the outside of the roast. Remember to turn them from time to time.
  2. Place the pan in the oven, and roast at 350 degrees F. Soon you should hear a sizzling sound as the fat renders from the meat and fries the mirepoix. The flour will begin to brown. Take care that the mirepoix towards the back of the oven does not burn, as that is where the oven is hottest. Use the red wine to sprinkle those areas that look like they might burn.
  3. When the flour is lightly browned on top of the brisket, turn it over. Don't puncture the meat with your fork, you can use a large spatula and stick the fork into the fatty area between the deckle (top meat) and the flat part of the brisket. Stir the mirepoix, and let the bottom brown. This process may take an hour or more.
  4. When the brisket's bottom side has taken some color, turn the meat again. By now the mirepoix and the flour should be well browned, and the brisket nicely colored. During this process, if the sizzling of the fat in the pan gets loud, turn the oven down. It should just "sing" to you, but softly. I was taught to roast meat by this method of listening to the "singing". The point at which the meat just sings softly is best, and a slow brown is one that stays with the meat.
  5. Now add the hot stock to the pan. It should almost cover the brisket. Lower the oven to 300 degrees F. And simmer the roast. The stock will reduce. Turn the brisket every 1/2 hour. Remember not to pierce the meat, as this will bleed the juices from the meat. When the stock is reduced about halfway, cover the pan. Baste the brisket with the juices in the pan every 15 minutes. The brisket is done when it reaches 180 degrees F internal temperature. It should take about 2 1/2 hours total, but the internal temperature is what defines doneness, so use a good meat thermometer. As a Chef, I used to take a lot of kidding about it, but nobody ever kidded me about my roasts. Being a pro is never having to say sorry!
  6. Strain the juices into a pot. If you cut the mirepoix nicely, in large pieces, you may simply save them to serve with the sliced meat and potatoes, or press the mirepoix in the strainer very hard to get out all the juices, or just purée it into the pot. I love these new hand blenders that you can just stick right in the pot. Allow the pot to stand, and skim off as much fat as you can. Then bring the pot to the boil and bind with a slurry of cornstarch mixed with wine or water, to adjust the thickness. You want it just to coat a spoon, and of course NO loose fat.
  7. This was made as a braised brisket, that is it was cooked with moist heat, as an entire joint of meat, but only half submerged in liquid. As a result the gravy will be richer in flavor. The vegetables and potatoes cooked in the gravy will have an excellent flavor and richness, otherwise not obtainable. A pot roast would brown the meat and veg in a pot, and completely cover the meat with liquid, like a stew, but the meat would not be cut up in cubes.

Important Note: For a brisket, unless you are an experienced carver, it is best to separate the deckle (top) from the plate, and trim away the in-between fat, which can be considerable. It is then easy to cut across the grain, at an angle, to get nice large slices. Brisket cuts even better when it is cold, and as it is completely well done, does not suffer at all by being reheated in the gravy, as long as it does not boil.

Notes: See how the technique used almost exactly parallels the schematic preparation of a brown sauce, although the gravy from a braising is more like that of a Demi-Glace (more concentrated) and a pot roast more similar to an Espagnole. In the summers, I used to do 22 briskets every week, and made all my brown sauces from brisket gravy. IHMO, if you like well done meat, braised brisket is the way to go, as it is one of the most tasty cuts of meat.

Steve's #21 Recipes

The Five Grande Sauces

Sauce Espagnole
Sauce Diable for Grilled Pork
Beef Sweetbreads in Mushroom Sauce
Chicken Stew Chasseur*
Braised Brisket of Beef
Fillet de Beouf aux Morilles
Autumn Roast Duck
Brown Stock—Estouffade*
Court Bouillon*

*Repeated from a previous article


©1996, Steve K. Holzinger. All rights reserved.

This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007