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Dec 9, 2008 11:20 AM

Anybody know how to cook a brisket?

Im trying to recreate my favorite dish of childhood. My nanna made this amazing potroast/brisket and I have little idea how. Im hoping somebody is familiar with her hungarian/jewish/depression-era style and might counsel me on a similar recipe.

Here's what I know:
She bought a very lean cut of beef: possibly bottom round or top round.
She browned the paprika tinged meat and then bathed it in cans of tomato sauce and water.

Thats about all I can remember. Im not even sure if she roasted it in oven or on stove top.

Input? What other techniques and ingredients am I missing?


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  1. not too sure about the paprika recipe, but I usually buy brisket, cover with water, add lots of onion and a couple of stock cubes and simmer on the stove top for 3 or 4 hours. This makes the most wonderful gravy and the meat just falls apart. There is usually plenty of gravy left over for sausage and mash the following day! yum

    1. I'm not super-familiar with the styles of cooking you're looking for, but I can direct you to the correct cut of meat which would be beef brisket.

      It is a braise of some sort and you can ask other family members what else she might have put in. I would suggest oven cooking for the braise after searing in the hot pan. From there just go with your instincts or other family members' instructions on ingredients.

      If it were me, I would try this:

      Salt and sear the beef brisket in a hot dutch oven lightly coated with olive oil until it is very well browned on both sides and remove it from the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and add a large sliced onion into the pan and cook until the onions are brown, maybe 10 to 15 minutes. You might have to add some olive oil to the pan. Sprinkle in a few tablespoons of good hungarian paprika (maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons) on top of the onions and toast the paprika in the pan being sure not to burn it. Deglaze with stock, water, wine, or vermouth after a minute or 2 of toasting. Add a large can of diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you might want (noting the salt content already in the canned tomatoes!) I suggest at least adding a bay leaf or 2. Add the brisket back into the pot and add more liquid (beef stock or chicken stock or even water) until it is about 3/4 the way up the meat. Cover the whole thing and roast it about 2 or 3 hours at around 325 or 350 until the meat is tender. You might have to replenish the liquid in the pot depending on how long it cooks.

      There are lots of variations here, and that's where family suggestions can come in handy. Maybe add some tomato paste in there. Maybe there's a distinct herb or spice that she used, etc. Potaotes are a typical Depression-era, Hungarian ingredient too. Good luck!

      1. This also sounds familiar from my childhood. My grandmother and mother made this with both pot roast and brisket -- whatever was cheapest and would benefit from hours and hours of slow cooking. I have made versions both on the stove top in a cast iron covered pot and in the oven, both on very low temperatures that maintain a slow simmer. I'll bet there are several traditional Jewish-style recipes for this in the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

        1. Buy a brisket..cook it fat side up, low and slow in the oven on about 325 for several hours until it is tender. I'd just salt and pepper it and add the tomato sauce over the top..along with about 1/2 cup of water and some sliced onions. Throw some small red potatoes in around the side along with some celery and maybe an hour or so before you want to eat it. The juice will make a nice gravy.

          My grandma used to make a brisket just like that..only the sauce was made of a sort of bbq sauce she made which did have tomato sauce in it..and molasses.