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Mar 17, 2009 09:25 AM

Brisket - help please...

I am planning on making brisket (first attempt) this weekend and have a question.

I am planning on making it at least a day ahead of time so the flavor develops and then re-heating it on the day of the meal.

My question is, should I cook it, let it cool to room temperature, and then SLICE it and cover it with the sauce before refrigerating? Or should I refrrigerate the brisket WHOLE, reheat, and then slice right before dinner? Will slicing before I refrigerate make it harder to skim the fat off once cooled?

I would be very interested to hear the advice of 'Hounds who have some experience in this area.

Also, I have not completely settled on a recipe. I am considering the brisket recipe from "All About Braining" that includes rhubarb (or apples if rhubarb is out of season), the briket carbonnade recipe from the Gourmet magazine cookbook, and some recipes I have copied from various Chowhound threads, including Cindy's brisket recipe and Diane's. Any feedback on these (or other) recipes would be greatly appreciated.



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  1. I would strongly suggest cooking it, cooling it, slicing, putting back in pot (or dutch oven which is what I use) with sauce,etc., and then refrigerating it. The fat will come to the top regardless of whether it is sliced or whole. I have refrigerated it whole and it is harded to slice that way, because when it is cold, it is hard as a rock, and after you have reheated it, it will be too hot to handle.

    I have also refrigerated it whole and then the next day taken it out of the refrigerator several hours before dinner and let it get to room temperature, and then sliced and put back in the pot for re-heating, but I much prefer slicing, assembling, refrigerating and re-heating the next day.

    1. Jfood goofed many years ago when making a brisket and he is glad he did. the result was fantastic and he has followed this process since.

      First he uses a Reynolds Turkey sized bag for brisket. Just wanted to getthat on the table, but this process should work in Dutch oven as well.

      He normally cooks his brisket for about 3-4 hours in a 275-300 oven. About 2/3rds of the way through the desired time, he removes the brisket and slices it across the grain and then returns to the oven for the last 1/3.

      The he allows to cool onthe counter and lastly into the fridge for the overnight. About 2 hours before serving, the meat comes out of the fridge, and the fat skimmed off. Theninto the oven for re-heating and serving.

      1. Definitely cook, cool & slice the day ahead, but only if that's to save time. I don't think you need to make it ahead to improve the flavor, unless it's not seasoned enough to begin with. The fat will rise to the top, either if sliced or not.

        My favorite recipe is to use a 5 lb. flat cut. Use a broiler pan (bottom only) or heavy rimmed sheet pan and heavy duty foil. Line the pan with enough foil so that you can cover & fold down over the entire piece of meat. Slice two large onions and put them on the bottom. Lay the brisket on top of onions. Use 2 (yes, 2) packets of Liptons (or comparable) dried onion soup mix and sprinkle over entire brisket. Fold foil down all the way to form a tight packet, with no air pockets.

        Bake in a 300 degree oven for 5 hours. Take out after 5 hours and let rest undisturbed for another hour to finish cooking. Slice & serve or store. Simply delicious, and seasoned perfectly. Don't make the mistake of leaving it in the oven for that resting hour - I did once & it was dry, no juices left. Good luck!

        1. Cook, refrigerate, then slice when cold. You can do this the morning after the cook, then separate fat from sauce and put it all back in the fridge until you reheat. A fully cooked "fall apart" tender brisket will be difficult to slice when hot -- it wants to fall apart. Cold, it is much firmer. Yes, it can be physically harder to slice because of the firmness, but an electric slicer makes quick work of it.

          1. I'm going against the trend here. If you slice the day before, the meat will be much drier than if you slice after reheating. Reheat, let rest for 20 minutes in foil, then slice.

            I have two recipes I like depending on if you want BBQ style brisket or Jewish brisket. Both use a sliced yellow onion. Jewish brisket you add Heinz chili sauce, a can of Coke, and onion soup mix. BBQ style you can make your own sauce or use a bottled one. I've found they turn out quite tender in a crock pot.

            I would only make ahead if it's a timing issue. I don't think you need an extra day for flavor to develop if you cook in seasoned liquid.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lisaf

              Pre-slicing might affect moistness for a barbecue brisket, because you are increasing surface area exposed to air through which evaporation can occur. But for a traditional "Jewish" style brisket, preslicing actually improves moistness. The now sliced brisket is reheated gently in a roasting pan full of the now degreased sauce it cooked in. Essentially a final slow braise. And unlike reheating an unsliced brisket, the sliced brisket has plenty of surface area for the sauce to penetrate every slice.

              1. re: lisaf

                I second that by far. I don't make one often but that is how I did it. I did make mine the night before as I had no time the day I was to serve it. After slicing it I used some of the gravy and it worked just fine.