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Pot Roast: ?? re cooking brisket v. chuck

I just bought my first first brisket.

Can I marinate it, sear and brown it, then braise it the same as I would a chuck roast?

Anything I ought to know?


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  1. My most yummy brisket recipe calls for no marinating and no searing, just low, slow oven-braising. And it always receives rave reviews -- tender and SOOOO tasty!

    Chili-Beer Brisket

    3 very large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    1 whole brisket (approx. 6-7 pounds), 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. Remove all remaining visible fat from the meat, then slice the meat against the grain.

    Strain liquid into a fat separator and pour off fat. Add the de-fatted liquid and vegetables from pan to a saucepan or large bowl. Using an immersion blender, puree some of the vegetables, leaving some in large pieces for texture. Put the sliced meat into an ovenproof casserole dish. Cover meat with gravy. Cover and reheat. This dish is even better the following day.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CindyJ

      This is so close to the way I make it, but I like to add a bunch of hot sauce too.

    2. How large is your brisket? A real whole brisket (usually sold in a cryovac bag) runs 11 pounds or more. The 6-7 lb. "whole" brisket that CindyJ describes is probably a whole flat cut, with the fattier point cut removed. The flat cut is leaner and easier to slice, and is usually what is sold in supermarkets or by most butchers. Also, most supermarkets trim the brisket to the usual 1/4-inch of fat, which is not enough to baste, moisten and flavor the brisket during the very long cooking.

      I agree that it is not necessary to sear a brisket as you would a chuck roast. I also don't think you need to marinate, as you would a flank steak, for example. Brisket is full-flavored on its own, and will also pick up loads of flavor during the hours of braising in a flavorful liquid. (Obviously, if you were going to BBQ the brisket it would be a whole different story, necessitating a very flavorful spicy rub.)

      The chili-beer recipe is a good model. You definitely want lots of garlic and loads of onions. I also like celery and carrots, some people like the taste that bell pepper adds, and I sometimes add zucchini and mushrooms for more bulk. For the moisture, you could go with wine and chicken or beef stock or broth, and throwing in a packet of that dried onion soup/dip mix isn't unheard of.

      Cooking is long, slow, covered and sealed. 325 is as high as I'd go, maybe even 300. You do need several hours of braising in the oven. The internal temp of the meat should reach 200 or darn close to make sure the connective tissue has melted and the meat is tender. I definitely think it is better after being chilled and reheated, so you can cook it a day or two ahead. It will also be MUCH easier to slice when cold and firmed up. Also, the fat in the cooking liquid will solidify and be easy to remove -- don't throw it away, it will be great for roasting potatoes. I disagree about removing all visible fat from the meat -- this isn't a diet dish and a bit of fat adds moisture and flavor. Reheat after slicing covered with the cooking liquid/gravy and softened vegies.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        Treat it as you would a chuck roast but sear and browning is not necessary. Slicing is very important. Must go against the grain as you would a flank steak. If you have a whole packer brisket I seperate the two parts after it's cooked and let each cool in the fridge before slicing. The grains run different.

        1. re: nosh

          That's right about the "whole" brisket, which I haven't been able to find in my area. I usually get my brisket still in the cryovac bag, untrimmed. The pieces of brisket you usually see in the meat case have been trimmed of the fat, which I believe, is an essential part of the cooking. I just ask the butcher for the whole package, unopened. I wish I could find a bona fide "whole" brisket, including the point cut.

        2. I normally do marinate my brisket overnight, for extra flavor. I never do that for a pot roast. But you don't have to. Cut little slits into the brisket and put slivers of garlic into each slit. Make sure you have enough fluid and cook slow and long. You can do it in the oven or on the grill (covered in foil or in a foil bag. You need the fluid to make it moist. And it HAS to be sliced correctly or it is trash. But no need to sear, and I think that would probably make it worse. I do use Claude's marinade for brisket, sometimes, or an Italian dressing, but if you put in a good beef broth that works too, (not meaning the marinade.)

          3 Replies
          1. re: danhole

            dan, by "sliced correctly", you mean sliced thinly and across the grain, right? I'm having a hard time thinking of a meat I don't cut across the grain, anyway. Or do you mean something else, too? Thanks for your help.

            1. re: MaggieRSN

              You slice it diagonally across/against the grain. When you pick up the first real slice (first cut is a little triangle) You hold it up and look it, by the thin end. It should separate into bite size section and break apart easily, as if you don't even need a knife to cut it. If it is a strip of meat with no give, you have sliced it the wrong way. Same goes with fajita meat.

              If I can find a photo I will add it later.

              1. re: danhole

                This is about corned brisket, but it still shows you how to look at the grain and how to slice it.


          2. Fat side up. 225 degrees. Hour a pound. foil tent. Add 1/2 hour at the end uncovered.

            1. This came from this board and I don't know to whom the credit belongs but it is killer!

              Beef Brisket

              Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic. Sear it in a cast iron pan and brown it on all sides. (cut it in half first if necessary)

              Roast for about a 1/2 an hour in a dutch oven, uncovered at 400

              Add 3 cups of beef broth, a 12oz. bottle of dark beer and top it off with 2 sliced (huge) onions.

              Reduce the heat to 350 and let it cook for another 3 (about) hours
              turning it once in a while (3 times throughout)

              Sweet Pea uses New Castle Ale

              1. Thank you all for your responses--and thanks to Cindy for that great recipe. I like cooking meat in beer and will definitely try that in the future. For now...I don't have beer in the house and don't expect to be able to get to the store tomorrow, due to anticipated Nor'easter. Wait a minute--we can't buy alcohol here, anyway, between Saturday evening and Monday morning. :-) I do have dry red wine and beef stock. I was thinking of mixing them--would that *hurt* it?

                You all are right. It's *not* a whole brisket. It's...*runs to fridge to check*...teensy!...1.7 pounds.

                It says, "Fresh Chuck Flat Cut Brisket". So, is that actually "brisket" or "chuck"? It doesn't look like chuck. Does chuck have a brisket?

                (*face turns red*) Told you it was my first one.

                6 Replies
                1. re: MaggieRSN

                  One of the things you'll find out about brisket is that it shrinks significantly during cooking. Your 1.7 pound piece of meat might feed two people.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    That's okay. The kids won't eat it, anyway, so I'm only feeding two with it.

                    But...I *am* glad to know that for future, Cindy. Literally? I serve small meat portions...about 3 oz. a meal. Will it shrink that much?

                    1. re: MaggieRSN

                      OK, let's salvage this. You have a 1.7 lb. brisket, probably a not-so-thick wide three or four inch portion of a flat cut. All of the previous suggestions still hold, but in smaller quantities. Yes, definitely use your red wine and beef stock, with a shot or two of worcestor sauce and/or soy. You need an oven-proof cooking vessel that will fit the brisket, a bunch of vegies, and enough liquid to come about half-way up the meat -- only a cup or so, probably. Chop roughly one onion, a couple of carrots, a couple stalks of celery. Since it is so small I would consider searing the brisket first. Place in a small dutch oven or high-sided casserole or baking dish, preferably with a cover, otherwise seal with aluminum foil. Sear the meat, place in the vessel, cover and surround with the vegies, pour in enough wine and broth to come half or two-thirds up the side of the brisket. Seal. Cook in low oven, 300, for at least two hours. Test for temp -- as I said before, the meat needs to get to almost 200 degrees. Note: It will get firmer and tougher BEFORE it softens and becomes tender -- don't be afraid. But also note that the brisket needs to braise, which means at the most a slow simmer, rather than boil, which will toughen it and make it dry. Good luck, and report back. With very long, very low and slow cooking, you still could get a good result. But next time, buy a big whole one and plan on feeding extended family and friends.

                      1. re: nosh

                        Thanks, nosh. Basically...re what you've just described...I really don't see any difference between this and my method for cooking a pot roast. Except for the necessity of doing it the day ahead, of course. TY for the detail and thanks to everyone for letting me know about that.

                  2. re: MaggieRSN

                    The flat cut is the long thinner part of the brisket. Less fat and easy to cut because all the fibers run in the same direction. The point is very fatty. Even after removing the outer fat layer there is considerable fat in the meat. This is a good thing or a bad thing depending on you taste.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Thanks for explaining, scubadoo. Appreciate it!

                  3. One more thing -- even more important to cook it at least a day ahead. Cook it very long and slow. Chill in the fridge. Remove the fat layer that will solidify and slice the now firm, cool brisket across/against the grain as thinly as you can. Rewarm either in the oven or even on the stovetop with all of the gravy and softened vegies.

                    1. Old timers recipe - lots of garlic, bay, carrots and onion in bottom of pan with water 1/2 way up sides - place raw brisket on top - bake at 200 - 225 - drink the beer, red wine and beef stock & go to bed. In am - slice & serve with mustard.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Sherlock

                        I'm with you Sherlock. Brisket needs to be cooked s-l-o-w to break down the collegen.

                        1. re: Sherlock

                          I like to smother it with sliced onions, then serve them on the side. Great if you're going to make sandwiches later too.

                          1. re: coll

                            I think what I'm going to do with the leftover meat, coll, is make pulled sandwiches for the menfolk. Looks like it's going to be perfect for that.

                            1. re: MaggieRSN

                              That's actually the main reason I make brisket, and the onions are great on the sandwiches.

                        2. Thanks for the original post, anyway, and hope your petite brisket fillet turned out ok.

                          Boneless chuck roasts were in the weekly ad at my local Ralph's, and I bought a gorgeous 3-inch thick choice almost four-pounder, for all of $7. Seared it in my Batali dutch oven which I feared was too big, but wasn't. Thank goodness for ceiling fans. Deglazed with a cup of wine and a cup of chicken stock. Surrounded with sliced onions, a head of garlic cloves, four stalks of celery and four large carrots, chunked, and a couple of zucchini. Lots of pepper, a few shots of worcestor, a couple shakes of soy. Covered, 300 degrees, three and a half hours. Top of roast out of liquid was crusty but not burnt, no need for a knife, portions of the roast fell off onto a spatula.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: nosh

                            That sounds delicious, nosh, and quite the deal, too. At least in these parts. Speaking of the garlic knob, I saw a recipe last night for 40-garlic-clove brisket. I think it called for a four-pound cut of meat. I'd like to try that next time.

                            I started the brisket early this morning and we had it tonight. So...I didn't wait 'til the next day...just due to the fact that whatever other meat I had on hand didn't seem appealing today. I can see that it would be beneficial to wait, to firm it up, and I'll try that, too, in the future. But today's result was extremely tender. I was very pleased with that aspect, and I was able to slice it quite thinly, after experimenting a bit to find the right knife. ;-)

                            I used a 5-qt. Staub enameled dutch oven, and made a bed of quartered onions, several whole carrots and celery stalks, two long rosemary spears each underneath and on top of the meat, a couple of bay leaves, S&P. I added the braising liquid--half dry red wine, half beef broth--and covered it tightly with three layers of foil. On top of the foil I put the cover of my 2-qt. Dutch oven (which I often do when braising something tented), put the big cover on. I cooked it for 3 hours at 275, opened it up then to check it, threw in a cinnamon stick, cooked one more hour at 300, then defatted the braising liquid and strained out the vegetables and let it rest in that 'til dinner time. I gently warmed it up in that, let it rest again for the 15 minutes (or so) while I made a thin gravy from the braising liquid.

                            It *was* incredibly tender, and hubby loved it, but for me, it was not seasoned enough. If I don't marinate something, I often find at the end of the process, it tastes like it didn't have enough salt. But...I don't like to add too much of that at the beginning, and when starting with raw meat, I don't like to taste for seasoning until the meat's internal temperature is safe... So that remains one of my challenges...getting the salting right.

                            Practice makes perfect, eh? Or, at least, it makes "better". Thanks for your help with this. I will definitely try this again and look for a real, grown-up brisket.

                            1. re: MaggieRSN

                              Been fun, Maggie, and I hope your brisket came out as tender and tasty as my chuck roast. Even though I know all of my chunked vegies have cooked out much of their flavor, I still spoon them over my meat and potatoes to fool myself into thinking I'm eating healthier. Happy cooking and chowing.

                              1. re: nosh

                                Just think of the broth as V-8 juice, redux. :-)

                                Thank you, nosh!

                                1. re: MaggieRSN

                                  V-8 juice is actually a great thing to put in with the Brisket.

                          2. After seeing Alton Brown's episode, I cobbled together something decent and simple.

                            1) Rub the chuck with salt, pepper and cumin
                            2) In an oven proof pan,sear it on all sides over high heat, remove
                            3) Brown/sweat 1 large onion (cut up) and as much garlic (smashed cloves) as you desire.
                            4) Add 1 cup red wine, 1 cup tomato juice or sauce, 1/3 cup balsamic, 1/3 cup raisins. Reduce the mixture by 1/2
                            5) Add the roast, coat it with the mixture, cover the pan and put it in a preheated (325) oven for 2 hours.
                            6) Remove, cool in fridge overnight.
                            7) Next day, skim the fat and put the pan back in a 225 degree oven for 4 hours (or more).

                            Fantastically rich.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pdxoski

                              Thanks for sharing this recipe! The meat turned out so rich and tender that the folks I served it to still haven't stopped talking about it.