The brisket is possibly my favorite cut of beef. It begins as a touch stringy piece of meat that one can barely get a knife through, and ends up fork tender and loaded with flavor. It comes from the part of the cow’s belly that is closest to the ground and usually looks like a 2″ thick place mat…made out of meat.
There is a thick layer of fat on one side and this, while sliced off before serving, absolutely must remain attached for cooking!
The recipe I use is old school, reminiscent of Jewish style brisket. The most important ingredient here is time. (not thyme). It will cook in the oven for a total of 6 hours; think Sunday dinner, and in the fall when it’s not hot out.
It also calls for a rather arcane ingredient, Heinz Chili Sauce. Heinz Chili Sauce looks like a bottle of ketchup, and can usually be found near–but not in–the ketchup section. The flavor is like a mild cocktail sauce and though called chili sauce, it has no heat of any kind.
I am always surprised when I find this because I have never heard of anyone using this before…on anything! Yet, my recipe calls for it and they always have it, so if you are aware of other uses for this sauce, please add a comment below!
There is another old-school store-bought ingredient and that is dry onion soup mix. Now you may be thinking, why all the processed ingredients, but the technique is what matters and the texture and flavor of this meat will be the final word on the subject.Dry onion soup mix is another old-school ingredient that makes this brisket so good.
One large beef brisket
2 bottles Heinz Chili Sauce
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/2 bottle red wine
2-3 large onions
Preheat the oven to 325° and begin the recipe by peeling and slicing several large onions into onion rings, thick, like 1/2 an inch. Scatter the rings across the floor of a roasting pan.
Lay the meat–fat side up–over the onion slices and season well with salt and pepper. Since the meat is so thick and dense, it’s also a good idea to pull it out of the refrigerator a half hour before going into the oven.
Cover the meat with the red wine, then the Heinz Chili Sauce, and then the onion soup mix.
Cover the pan either with a lid or with foil and roast at 325° for 4 hours, basting every hour. When you baste, be careful not to wash all of the sauce from the top of the meat. Just ladle the juices carefully over the meat.
After 4 hours, pull the meat from the oven and uncover to let cool a bit. Turn the oven down to 225°.
After the meat has cooled enough to handle, place it on a cutting board fat side up and holding a long slicing knife horizontally, slice off the layer of fat and discard.
Cut the brisket into quarter-inch thick slices across the grain. The grain on a brisket is very apparent and easy to read. You want to cut across that grain. Picture a bundle of sticks and you want to cut them into sheets of twigs!
This is a very important step in the recipe because by the time the meat is finished it will be falling apart and much more difficult to slice. At this point it is still slightly tough and easier to get clean slices. If you get some shredded brisket with it, that’s ok, that’s good too!
Return these slices to the sauce in the pan, making sure they are submerged in liquid and mixed in with the onion slices. Return the pan to the oven (now set at 225°) for 2 more hours, uncovered.
Again, this is an important step. Leaving it uncovered allows the sauce to thicken into what will be almost as amazing as the meat!
Serve this with something that will absorb the sauce, such as fondant potatoes (recipe coming soon). It will also want some color such as carrots or my recommendation, Roasted Kale. Once this recipe is in your repertoire, you will be asked to make it for special occasions, holidays, and many chilly sunday dinners!