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Brisket in the oven?

I client gave me a recipe for brisket that her Jewish grandmother used to make for the holidays. She said it was incredibly tender. I love brisket, so thought I would give it a try. It was terrible, hard as a rock and tough as shoe leather. I cooked it according to the directions she gave me. The recipe is totally simple. Where did this go wrong?
Bubbies Brisket:
1 whole brisket, 1 can Coke, 1 envelope onion soup mix, 1 bottle chili sauce.
Defat brisket and score diagonally. Place in roasting pan scored side down. Add chili sauce, onion soup mix and can of Coke. Cover tightly with tin foil and cook at 325 for 3 to 5 hours until fork tender. Slice brisket against grain where scored. Defat gravy and return slices to pan. Cook for another 45 minutes at 325.
What a bummer; had to stay home because the oven was on a good part of the day, and the meal was ruined anyway!

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  1. Oh my! The scoring, the scoring....shakes head. There is no need, and indeed it is drying to score the beef, especially cutting it and adding it back to the braise ,after it's been braising for hours.
    5 hours is likely way too long.
    Keeping the ingredients the same, I would:
    S&P, and lightly flour the brisket. Sear to brown each side in olive oil.Transfer to roasting pan. Baste in the coke/soup mix/ chili sauce mix in a tin foil covered roasting pan (or a large braiser if you have one) at 325 for 3 hours. Check for fork tenderness. DO NOT SCORE OR CUT!
    If it's fork tender, it's done. Let the brisket rest for 15-20 minutes on a cutting board before slicing. Place the braising gravy in a fat separating cup and pour over sliced brisket as desired.
    Bubbie, Bubbie, Oy vey!!

    eta: and leave some of that fat on!! Do not de-fat it because you'll lose flavor.

    1. I never defat the brisket nor score it (or even sear it).

      I'd place it in the pan (or dutch oven) pour the rest of the ingredients over it, cover and cook at 325 for 3-4 hours. Let it cool, put in refrigerator overnight. Brisket is always better the next day. Take the whole thing out of the refrigerator and let it get close to room temperature (it's just easier to slice when it's not so cold). Take the layer of fat off the liquid, slice the meat against the grain, put it back in the pan (or dutch oven) with the liquid, cover and reheat for about an hour at 300 or so.

      Give it another try! It really is easy!

      1. I have seen this recipe before without the scoring and defating. Makes a nice sweet sauce.
        I made a 9 lb whole brisket last friday night. I put it in a large foil pan with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, water/red wine to fill half way up the side of the brisket. Covered tightly and cooked 5hrs at 350. Removed the brisket and placed in the fridge to slice the next day. Strained the liquid and stached in the fridge. Next day defated sauce and added balsalmic vinegar, katsup, spices more wine. Reduced sauce by half. Cleaned brisket of all surface fat and sliced. Reconstructed with sliced brisket, sauce and carmelized onions on top and returned to the oven for an hour to heat up. Brisket was anything but dry. By cooking the day before you can defat the sauce and it makes the brisket easy to slice when cold.

        1. That just goes to show ya -- not all Bubbies were great cooks. The meat needs the fat for tenderness and flavor. It's easy enough to de-fat it after it's been cooked. And personally, I've never scored a brisket, and don't see the need for it.

          Low and slow is the way to braise it. Four hours at 325 ought to be just fine. Don't give up on making brisket. For what it's worth, here's my favorite brisket recipe:

          Chili-Beer Brisket

          3 very large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
          1 whole brisket, patted dry with paper towel
          ½ tablespoon kosher salt
          Freshly ground black pepper
          3 pounds yellow onions, halved and sliced
          4 medium carrots, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
          3 large ribs of celery, sliced into 1-inch pieces
          4 bay leaves
          2 bottles Heinz chili sauce
          2 12-oz. bottles good quality dark beer

          Preheat oven to 325°

          Rub chopped garlic onto both sides of the brisket. Sprinkle with salt and ground pepper.

          Spread onions, carrots and celery in a roasting pan. Place the meat over the vegetables. Put two bay leaves under the meat and two on top of the meat.

          Combine chili sauce and beer in a large bowl. Carefully pour mixture over meat.

          Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and braise in oven for 4 hours. Remove from oven, remove foil and allow meat to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.

          Strain liquid into a fat separator and pour off fat. Add liquid and vegetables from pan to a saucepan. Using an immersion blender, puree some of the vegetables, leaving some in large pieces for texture. Reheat. Serve over sliced meat.

          15 Replies
          1. re: CindyJ

            I've never made plain brisket but I have made corned beef brisket. I find its critical to let the brisket cool in the liquid and refrigerate in the liquid to keep it tender and moist. I too would never trim the fat..its the most flavorful part.

            1. re: CindyJ

              OMG, cindyJ, this sounds awesome.

              i've tried to cook brisket in the oven twice, once with great success, once without.

              i'd love to try BBQing it on my weber kettle, but judging from my iffy results in the oven - i'm hesitant. (as a newbie weber kettle owner)

              1. re: hitachino

                Now, I'm not bragging, but I can honestly say that this recipe has NEVER failed me. If you do try it, let me know how it turns out. And let me know what time to show up for dinner. :)

                1. re: hitachino

                  ok, hitachino, you should definitely do the BBQ in your Kettle... I do it all the time. here's what you need to know. for a texas-style real BBQ, take either an entire brisket flat, best from Sam's or Costco, in the cryovac, with the fat cap on (runs from 5-8 lbs), or an entire brisket (flat and point, usually 10-14 lbs). Don't try this with a 3-lb chunck from the grocery store -- it will dry out fast. rub with a mix of about 4T kosher salt, 1T rough cracked black pepper, 1T granulated garlic, and 1t cayenne. that's it. doesn't need to sit in the fridge for a day, either. just get started on the Kettle. You need either to make two very small fires (about 8-12 briquettes each) on two sides of the kettle. Or you can make a "rope" or "fuse" of charcoal running 3/4 of the way around the edge of the grill. A diagonal "slice" of this fuse shows three briquettes, two on the bottom and one on top, like dominoes knocked over, all touching, around the grill. then light about 8 briquettes on one end. Add a few chunks of hardwood if you like (i use a little mesquite and hickory). It will slowly burn around, maintaining about 250 degrees in the chamber. Cover on, top and bottom vents open. That fuse will burn, undisturbed, for about 5-6 hours. Nice trick; ought to take a pic of it so I can share. Anyway, the dry rubbed brisket goes in the middle of the grill, with NO fire under it -- fire is either on the sides or around the edge. If you do the sides, you''ll need to add 4 or 5 coals every 30-45 min on each side. So the fuse has it's advantages. It will take about 6-8 hours to do a 6-7lb flat this way. if you use the fuse, you'll just need to start adding coals every 40 min after it runs out. You want a dome temp of about 250-275. And the brisket will be done when the internal temp hits between 190-200. You need to track the internal temp with a probe or instant read, but also check to see when the brisket simply gets fork tender. That's when it's done. Don't let sauce touch the brisket when cooking. You can whip up a vinegary/tomato sauce to serve on the side. You can use something like a Stubbs, but not something sweet... not for Texans, anyway. I can give you a sauce from scratch if you like. One more thing. Some people will wrap the brisket in foil when it hits about 160-170 internal, and finish that way to 200. It will help retain moisture. It's a good idea. gonna give it a try??

                  1. re: woodburner

                    awesome, thank you!

                    i will definitely try this - i have to find some more of the uniformly-sized hardwood briquettes that i initially got at home depot when i bought the grill - after running out i've been using the hardwood chunks and they burn way to quickly and unpredictably.

                    the briquettes in that rope method (when i tried slow smoking some ribs) burned FOREVER. to the point where i think i overcooked the ribs, and the ring had only burned halfway around - i think it took 4 hours.

                    i can't remember the brand, so i'll have to just make a special trip to home depot.

                    thanks again!!!!

                    1. re: hitachino

                      You're welcome. This sounds goofy, but I highly recommend good old Kingsford. They burn cleanly and consistently. Store brands can be uneven. You're right about the lump hardwood... burn fast and hot.

                2. re: CindyJ

                  CindyJ: your recipe sounds great. Next time I make brisket, this will be the recipe I use. Question: what does a whole brisket weigh? In my grocery store, I usually just see pieces that range from 2 lbs to 5 or so. Maybe I should ask the butcher to give me a larger piece? I know brisket shrinks alot; what would be a good weight to buy and approx how many people would the above recipe serve?

                  1. re: mschow

                    I usually buy a whole brisket -- I'm guessing it's about 3-4 pounds. In a supermarket, they come cryovac (?) wrapped and sealed, and they often cut them in half to put into the meat case. This is NOT the same as the brisket they sell for corned beef! Yes, it does shrink quite a bit. A whole brisket will feed about 5-6 people, assuming there are side dishes, and depending on appetites. In my house, folks just gobble it up. Buy more than you think you need; leftovers (if there are any) are DELICIOUS!

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      Packer style whole briskets, untrimmed in cyro, are around 8-16 lbs. Even if you trimmed it out you would lose only a couple of pounds. Sounds like the supermarket cryos are the whole flats without the point and very well trimmed.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        that's exactly what I was meaning- CindyJ- if it's only around 3-4 lbs it is not a whole brisket, only the flat cut portion (which could only be around 5 at most). Most whole I find are average 10 lbs, as to why most recipes call for that.

                        1. re: pamd

                          Interestingly enough, the original brisket recipe (which I've now modified significantly) called for a whole brisket weighing about 10 pounds. From what I've read about whole brisket, I've concluded that (1) the cut of brisket I buy, even though it's cryo-wrapped, has already had that top portion of meat removed, and (2) it's difficult to find a "whole" brisket in my neighborhood. Where does one have to go to find a "whole" brisket?

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            We get ours (about 10lbs) at Costco. Sam's Club also sells them here in DFW.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                actually, at the Costco in PA that I go to, I've only seen the flat cuts~3-5 lbs.
                                Probably the butcher on Germantown Ave, or possibly WayneFM?

                  2. re: CindyJ

                    Thanks for this recipe CindyJ. I made it tonight with a 3 1/3 lb brisket. The only thing I would change is next time I'll either use a bigger brisket or less veggies. I had way too much sauce for meat!
                    It was really good though!

                  3. No scoring! Fat side up. 200 degrees for 4-6 hours...Cool, refridge, bring to room temp, gently reheat in low oven. Deeeelish.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Funwithfood

                      How long wouldI cook a 4 lb brisket? I have dry rubbed it do I need to add liquid? I want to primarily cook it in the oven but place it on the grill for the last hour to get that flavor..sound good?

                    2. I make brisket all the time and everyone loves it. First, how large was the brisket? For me I always make a whole brisket about 15 pounds. I have the butcher split the top from the bottom and take off most of the fat. I put slice onions on the bottom, put the large piece on top, put more onions and some garlic on top, lay the smaller piece on top and more onions. I then put a package of Telma onion soup on top and pour water to come up about half way up the brisket. I cover with h//d aluminum foil and roast at 350 for about 4-5 hours. Take out let cool and put in fridge. Next day take the fat off, there's always fat in the gravy. slice against the grain and then I put in Weber throwaway bbq pans, large and small. Put the brisket in and the gravy and onions and slow roast at about 275-300 for about 2 hours. Let cool and then I freeze. People lover it and it is very tender, and not dry at all. I love to have it hand in the freezer so we can have if someone comes over or just to have. Hope you enjoy, it's simple but delicious.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: paprkutr

                        How long would cook time be for a 15lb brisket cooked covered in oven at 350 degrees?

                        1. re: madt

                          I think you need about 1/2 hr per pound to be safe. As paprkutr did I will take it out before it's fork tender, let it cool and then slice it. It has a tendency to shred if you try to cut it hot or when it's very tender.

                      2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this recipe. The scoring probably isn't necessary--the idea, I guess, is to absorb the sauce--but not harmful. I would say the cut of meat was not good, and may have been butchered improperly. I assume you used FRESH, not corned, brisket. As you should. Try another source; go to a market in a Jewish neighborhood.

                        1. I've never scored or defatted. I prefer to use just the flat cut, which is about 4lbs. I have made easy recipes like this (just using onion soup packet & cranberry sauce) as well as others. I really like Emeril's Passover Brisket, & they all turn out tender everytime. Be sure to cover tight. Also, it is usually better the next day. Don't give up!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pamd

                            Also, forgot to add: another reason you sometimes see an instruction to score is to keep the meat flat/from curling, especially with a largish piece of uneven thickness. I too have never scored brisket.

                          2. This is the most ridiculously simple yet delicious brisket ever. It's just salt, pepper, garlic and a crapload of sliced onions. The recipe was *handed down* to me from a another hound.:)

                            1. My guess is Bubbie was used to getting really, really, really fatty cuts of brisket and was trying to render some of the fat out. These days almost all cuts of beef are 20+% leaner than a generation ago, thus no need for de-fatting or scoring. Making the dish a day ahead of time is a great suggestion from below. Cool it in it's juices in the fridge, remove the now cold and easily liftable layer of rendered fat, slice the beef, return to juice, and reheat in oven or on stove top (if pan allows). My family's recipe was a small can of tomato paste, brown sugar, water, onion soup mix, onions, quartered potatoes, and carrot chunks (baby carrots if lazy) all done to proportion of the size brisket (grab a big oven safe pot with lid, dump in roast and surround with veggies, pour in liquid till 2/3rds the way full - make more onion soup with brown sugar if needed, but don't add another can tomato paste). The "gravy" is delish and the veggies & meat are wonderfully tender.

                              1. Jfood has the following input:

                                - Always keep the fat on the brisket and when cookingthe fat is on the top
                                - Do not scor the brisket
                                - Throw away any recipe that calls for Lipton Onion Soup. Jfood had this same discussion with momma jfood theother night on her visit.
                                - Jfood uses a Reynolds Oven Bag. Works like a charm, and works in the same manner as the foil method below.
                                - One brisket per bag. Cook at 300 for 3 hours (assuming about a 5lb brisket.
                                - Here's jfood's trick (learned it when he screwed up years ago0. Take the brisket and slice on a bias against the grain. then RETURN THE SLICES TO THE JUICE AND BACK IN THEOVEN FOR 60 MINUTES.
                                - Remove and place in fridge overnight. As others have said brisket is better the next day.

                                1. CINDYJ: Update: I tried your brisket recipe this weekend and it is fabulous. A few changes I made: I didn't have any dark beer, only Molson, so I used one Molson and 1 cup of a good red wine. I seasoned the meat first with some of Emerils Essence, because I had it on hand. I followed jfood's suggestion of the oven bag which helped with the cleanup. I also followed his suggestion of slicing the meat, putting it back in the sauce, and warming again for an hour. I removed everthing from the oven bag, and placed in the heavy duty roasting pan I had cooked it in. lined with heavy duty aluminum foil. No mess in the pan at all, and I covered it tighttly with more foil to reheat. So delicious, and the house stilll smells great. So good, in fact, that the dog was barking at the stove for a half hour, and finally sat down and just stared at it as if the meat would mysteriously jump out and into his bowl.
                                  Thanks for your recipe and everyone's suggestions. This brisket does not have a future as shoe leather or a hockey puck. Try this recipe if you haven't; you'll be happy you did.

                                  1. Was it fork tender when you sliced it? Or did it never reach that point?

                                    When you opened the foil, was there much juice?


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: paulj

                                      try Joan Nathan's fruited brisket, it is fab!!! I made it for Rosh Hashannah and everyone flipped for it.

                                    2. I promised my family brisket recipe and I've finally gotten a chance to get it from my mother, make it, and type it out. No Coke, no ketchup, no soup mix. Just a whole lot of wine, vegetables, and herbs. It was originally my paternal grandmother's recipe, and my mother modified it after she went to France. It came out great when I made it. I used a local, grass-fed piece of brisket and fresh-made egg noodles.

                                      Brisket of (grandma) Beatrice, modified by (mother) Esther

                                      Forgive the lack of measurements, but you can decide how much of each vegetable and spice you want.

                                      1 brisket, anywhere from 1-4 pounds
                                      1 large onion
                                      bay leaves (6-12)
                                      a few cloves
                                      Italian parsley
                                      fresh thyme
                                      fresh ground black pepper
                                      1-2 bottles of strong red wine, such as shiraz or cabernet
                                      Fresh egg noodles

                                      Preheat oven to 350-375F. Chop vegetables into large pieces and set aside. Sprinkle raw brisket with pepper. In a large pan or pot, sear the entire brisket. To do this, heat oil, and place each side of the brisket, including the thin sides and ends, against the hot bottom of the pot until browned.

                                      In a large, oven-safe roasting pan or pot with a lid, place half of the vegetables, along with parsley, thyme, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves. Place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Cover with the other half of the vegetables and pour in ridiculous amounts of red wine - enough to cover the brisket. Place the lid on the pot slightly askew, and if you’re using the kind of pot designed to hold a little water in the lid, add a little water.

                                      Heat this pot on a burner until it’s simmering, and then place in the oven. Cook for 2 or 2.5 hours, depending on the size of the brisket. Every hour, open the pot, scrape down the sides with a wooden spatula, and turn the brisket. Add more wine to make up for what has escaped.

                                      Take the brisket out of the oven and let it refrigerate overnight.

                                      The next day, add more wine, heat on burner, and cook at 350-375 for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Slice meat across the grain on oblique angle (about 45 degrees) and serve on a platter with fresh Italian parsley sprinkled on top. Boil fresh egg noodles. Serve the sauce to spoon over meat and noodles.


                                      1. OK firstly ignore the post below yours, the problem wasn't scoring the brisket. Never never never trim the far off before you cook the brisket. If you want to trim it off after, that's your business but that top fat cap is one of the best parts. Second, you need to roast it fat side up, this allows that fat cap to render and run down into the meat keeping it moist. Another issue is that you need some bold flavors for a rub. I make a rub out of chili powder, onion powder, kosher salt, cayenne, pepper, and celery salt. Score the fat side, but only deep enough to light score the meat, our just don't score through the fat. Score in a cross hatch pattern about an inch or so between lines. Run the brisket down and get in all the cracks. Roast in the oven on 250-300 for an hour tops. Now add about 1 1/2 of beef stock, and water till it's about 1/3 of the way up the brisket. Now roast tightly covered (dutch oven works best) for about 10-12 hours. I know it's a long time but it really makes a great brisket. I work for a very good BBQ restaurant and when our smoker took a crap for 3 days this is how I did the brisket. Good lock and enjoy. Remember, keeping that fat cap on really will make for a superior brisket. Oh ya, save the coke for ribs.

                                        Side note: Adjust cook time cause I'm used to the 15-20# briskets we get at work. Our brisket for 17 hours 16-17 hours in 175 degrees at the restaurant.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: TwoKSiR

                                          Whoops! The recipe you've supplied and the 10 hours of roasting you've suggested is for brisket prepared Texas/Southwest style. The cut of meat is the same, but the flavor profile and the cooking technique have nothing to do with one another.

                                          Jews live all over the world so there's no single Jewish flavor. The sweetness of the OP's recipe suggests the Eastern European preference for sweet but, obviously, the ingredients have been modernized. (I think that particular recipe was the rage in the US in the late 50s--60s.) Ditto for the recipe with the chili sauce. A recipe with cubes of sweet potatoes, prunes, and pineapple chunks would be the more classic version. Seattledeb's comment was spot on when she included her family recipe and said it was French. (I'll add that the Italians do their brisket that way, too.) Morrocan brisket is loaded with spices like ginger and saffron combined with tomatoes and olives. Hungarian brisket features -- no suprise -- Hungarian paprika and onions. And the list goes on.

                                          Of course, culinary traditions are evolving endlessly so your combination of spices could be applied to a brisket cooked the way SeattleDeb described. I guess we'd call that New American-style. But once you recommend roasting for 10-12 hours, that's an entirely separate culinary tradition.

                                          Incidentally, this confusion pops up every time we have a brisket thread. Upthread, there's another poster who does the same thing. Two delicious food traditions but they're entirely unrelated.