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Help! Can I rescue a tough brisket?

sljones Dec 16, 2006 10:54 PM

I just made my first ever brisket for a Hanukkah party tomorrow night,and while the flavor is great, the texture is, umm, chewy.

I followed a recipe which instructed cooking it fat side down, and now I'm wondering if that was a mistake.

So can this be rescued? Can I slice and reheat in sauce? Cook longer? Help me save this otherwise tasty meat!



  1. jfood Dec 16, 2006 11:07 PM

    Serendipity several years ago when this happened to me. Here's what rescued mine:

    Slice, place back in the gravy and back into the oven at 300 for another hour.

    In the future go with fat side up as well.

    Put in fridge overnight. Tomorrow when you re-heat it will be great. Have faith sljones. We've all been there staring at that slab of meat and saying, "Now what?"

    1. NYchowcook Dec 16, 2006 11:59 PM

      It's most likely tough because it has not been cooked long enough. As suggested above, slice and put in sauce it was cooked in, and heat for another hour or so.

      Actually, the way I cook it is to slice when it's still tough and put back to cook another hour (I add portabellas, sliced!). That way it's sliced -- it's hard to make neat slices once it's tender. So if you refrigerate it and re-heat tomorrow for an hour or so it should be great! No worries.

      2 Replies
      1. re: NYchowcook
        sljones Dec 17, 2006 12:06 AM

        Great, you both give me great courage! It's sliced and cooking now!

        1. re: NYchowcook
          Euonymous Dec 17, 2006 06:21 AM

          Make sure that when you slice it you slice against (perpendicular to) the grain of the meat.

        2. s
          sljones Dec 17, 2006 02:49 AM

          The brisket has been sliced and recooked, and things seem improved. The real test will come tomorrow, but many thanks for the input! I'll be sure to give you the final verdict!

          1 Reply
          1. re: sljones
            nosh Dec 17, 2006 03:50 PM

            It will be better after cooling overnight in the fridge. Sometimes I think that the process of cooling and reheating helps brisket, pot roast, stew, etc. as much or more than the length of cooking.

          2. m
            malibumike Dec 17, 2006 03:42 PM

            We usually cook ours in a pressure cooker and it comes out tender. If you are lucky enough to have a good meat slicer you can slice it thin against the grain and make good hot roast beef sandwiches. Just make sure the meat is cold before you slice it.

            1. s
              sljones Dec 17, 2006 05:02 PM

              Today, the meat definitely tastes less tough. I sliced it and cooked longer, but perhaps the cooling process helped as well.

              Thanks for the good advice and moral support! I think dinner will be great after all!

              One quick question....why wait until cool to slice? Is that just so it retains its juices?

              Many, many thanks!


              1 Reply
              1. re: sljones
                Doodleboomer Dec 17, 2006 05:10 PM

                any meat is easier to slice when cold rather than warm/hot. the reason why is the muscle is chilled and comes back together (the fibers), more tense if you will. when hot they are relaxed, just like our muscles are when we take a bath

              2. junglekitte Dec 17, 2006 05:30 PM

                i had this mistake when i made my first lamb tagine. i used a recipe from a very well known moroccan cookbook "momo" and the meat was toughhhhhhh. at the time, i didn't understand why also. so i just let it cook at least 1-2 hours longer than the recipe called for and it turned out fine!
                when in doubt, keep cooking these tough cuts of meat. it won't ruin it. :)

                1. chef chicklet Dec 17, 2006 05:47 PM

                  I made a corned beef brisket in the oven and started it early Friday morning. Cooked it for about 3 hour at 335 with a rub of garlic powder,onion, celery, pepper, brown sugar and a combo of brown mustard (golden;s and yellow ballpark) and a little bag of pickling spices oh and about a half cup of water, then covered with foil.

                  After my first experience a few years ago eating it boiled, I prefer the roasting method. For St. Patty's day, I add the carrots,potatoes and cabbage about an hour prior to pulling.
                  i do slice it against the grain on a slight diagonal.

                  It is always juicy and fall apart tender. The one I made the other day was the same, we just used it for sandwiches on small rolls. It was delicious and gone within minutes.

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