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HUGE Brisket Problem!

I just realized that the brisket recipe I've used before with great success calls for beer! I can't use beer for Passover. Please tell me if I need to forget this recipe or if I can just make it without beer with good results. I can't believe I just thought of this.

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  1. There's a likely substitute out there. It would help folks if we knew what else is in your recipe, so we could see what might balance it in the absence of beer.

    You might cross-post this on the Kosher board, as well.

    1. Can you use wine or you have to avoid the use of alcohol? You can make it without beer maybe adding more spice or stock???

      7 Replies
      1. re: flylice2x

        Here is the recipe that I've used (THANKS CINDY!) it came out perfectly.

        Cindy's Brisket

        3 very large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
        1 whole beef brisket (approx. 6-7 pounds), patted dry with paper towel
        ½ tablespoon kosher salt
        Freshly ground black pepper
        2 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
        1 bottle Heinz chili sauce
        1 12-oz. bottle good quality beer
        1 cup water

        Preheat oven to 325°

        Rub chopped garlic onto both sides of the brisket. (Don’t remove the layer of fat from the brisket; you’ll do that after the meat is cooked.) Sprinkle with salt and ground pepper.

        Spread onions, carrots and celery in a small roasting pan or Dutch oven that is the right size to hold the meat and other ingredients snugly. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Put two bay leaves under the meat and two on top of the meat.

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

        If using a roasting pan, cover it snugly with aluminum foil. If using a Dutch oven, cover the meat with a sheet of parchment paper that extends over the sides of the pot. Allow the paper to rest just above the meat. Cover the pot and braise in the oven for 4 hours. Remove pan from oven, remove lid or foil and allow meat to cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the layer of fat from the top of the meat. Slice meat against the grain.

        Using an immersion blender (stick blender), puree some of the vegetables, leaving some in large pieces for texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender, food processor, or even a potato masher. Put sliced meat back in pan with sauce and reheat before serving.

        This dish is even better when prepared a day ahead. Just refrigerate the sliced meat in the sauce and reheat to serve. The sliced meat and sauce also freeze well

        1. re: DaisyM

          I've made something similar. I am not Jewish and do not know all the Kosher issues, esp. those for Passover. I frequently substitute hard cider for beer, and I suppose regular apple juice (if properly certified, of course) would work, although it would produce a sweeter result than beer.

          If that is not acceptable, then beef stock would be the most flavorful addition. I don't think wine of any sort would work with the chili sauce, and water would just leave a bland result behind.

          You might even try (again if it's acceptable) stock mixed with the apple juice.

          1. re: DaisyM

            I would use beef broth. The recipe I use is a little different, but has chili sauce and beef broth. I finished mine yesterday and it all sliced, assembled and just waiting to go back into the oven tomorrow!

            1. re: valerie

              Let me just ask a stupid question....what does the beer do? Do you think it is for flavor or does it somehow tenderize the meat? Most of the recipes I've seen have used beer.

              1. re: DaisyM

                I think it would be for the flavor, not for tenderizing. I cooked 11 lbs. of brisket for 6 hours yesterday on 300, and let me tell you, it is tender! I would go with beef broth to be safe.

                This is the recipe I use, but adjusted for quantity and time, since it is originally for short ribs, not brisket. I almost don't even follow the recipe, but use it for a guide at this point. No beer and a lot of flavor.

                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                1. re: DaisyM

                  I use beer when braising beef all the time, for stews as well as pot roasts. It tastes wonderful, especially with lots of browned onions. I don't use carrots or any spices other than pepper when doing this because the flavors compete with the nice bitterness of the beer.

              2. re: DaisyM

                Since when is a whole brisket 6-7 pounds? Small animal?

            2. You have lots of options. With the recipe you've given, the beer isn't playing a huge role in the flavor profile. Your closest non-chametz analog would probably be a dry hard apple cider. You could also substitute wine or beef stock. Even water would work, but why not use something that brings a little flavor to the party? The taste of the finished product may be different, but the difference will be very subtle.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                I think I'll go with the beef stock. Thank you!

              2. This is not a "HUGE" problem. If anything this is a prime example of people following recipes too closely. Be brave, branch out, be original, experiment. If you're truly interested in cooking something nice for Passover, read the recipe and spend 2 minutes really thinking about what you could add to the mix to make it your own.

                After all if you're simply following a recipe, anyone who can read can do the exact same thing that you do. When you vary the ingredients and add little touches of your own, that's when you really start to cook.

                For instance think about not using that Heinz (bottled) chili sauce. Now this is up to you, but I can tell you with absolute conviction that I would NEVER dump an entire bottle of some pre-made sauce into a nice dish like a brisket. Add some chopped tomatoes, maybe even some sun dried tomatoes. How about a little brown sugar and some sliced hot chilies? Maybe some raisins?

                Your options are endless, and my main point is don't get hung up on the specifics of everything, just have fun with it. You will swell with pride when you can say you made the entire dish from scratch rather than saying "I dumped a bottle of pre-made Heinz into your dinner."

                4 Replies
                1. re: Squirrels

                  My concern is that the beer is having an efffect on the tenderness of the meat and did not know a substitute for that. Since this is a holiday dinner I do want to feel confident that I won't end up with a tough piece of meet.

                  1. re: DaisyM

                    I use red wine, which tenderizes the brisket and adds a nice depth of flavor.

                    1. re: DaisyM

                      There are actually VERY few ingredients that actually tenderize meat in any appreciable sense. The easiest thing to come by is papain which is derived from papaya. Search meat tenderizer online and you'll find more info. The next thing in line (aside from 4 hours in an oven) is fresh, uncooked pineapple juice.

                    2. re: Squirrels

                      While I agree with experimenting and creating your own versions of recipes, I would not be inclined to do this when I am having 16 guests for a holiday dinner. A side dish, maybe. A dessert, maybe. But when brisket is the star of the dinner, I wouldn't take a chance with something too unfamiliar.

                      Just my 2 cents.

                    3. Daisy, dont know how kosher you are, but likely there is also HFCS (corn is also prohibited) in the chili sauce. We don't do brisket for Passover, but you can substitute a good drinkable red wine (Merlot, Cab, etc) and your recipe should turn out fine. If you choose not to use the chili sauce, use some good quality canned tomatoes in juice and doctor them up with spices & herbs. Relax, it will turn out fine. Chag Sameach!

                      1. Brisket puts out a lot of its own juice and doesn't require any liquid at all for braising. You can just leave out the beer, chili sauce, and water from your recipe. If you want a tomato-ey flavor, add some tomato puree or chopped tomatoes with the vegetables. Season however you like it, brown on both sides, add onions and other aromatic vegetables if you like, and put it in the oven fat side up, covered, at 350 F until a fork can be inserted in the meat and removed easily--about 3 hours for a 4-5 lb brisket usually. If you like to add vegetables like potatoes and carrots, add them about an hour or an hour and a half before it's done.

                        If you want my version, from my grandmother's recipe, I've posted it on our family food blog--

                        http://familyoffood.blogspot.com/2008...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                          Thanks so much everyone. You know how it is when you have a lot of people coming over and you want everything to turn out well. Really appreciate your help!

                        2. I like to use ginger beer sometimes in place of beer, adds a little spice.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: coll

                            Hey, thatt was an excellent idea! We use ginger beer for dark and stormys. I never thought of cooking with it. I'll try that.

                            1. re: DaisyM

                              Glad you like the idea, I always keep a bottle or two around for brisket or pulled pork.

                          2. Best brisket I've made yet was made with coca cola!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: monavano

                              I used Dr Pepper, root beer and also Fresca in Mexican dishes. Waste not, want not! Love Coca Cola with ham.

                              1. re: monavano

                                And for Passover you get to use the Real sugar based Coke and not the HFCS one.

                                1. re: monavano

                                  oops - see I posted my response before I read yours -- AGREED. Coke is definitely the best... use it all the time -- crack myself up, but it works!

                                2. DON'T LAUGH!! But a can of coke works perfectly - carmelizes, tenderizes, and adds a perfect sweetness. I guarantee you rave reviews even though it sounds gross and weird.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: truefoodie

                                    Just wanted to tell you that the brisket was terrific. Instead of beer, I used 1/2 coke and
                                    1/2 beef broth. I'm still intriqued with ginger beer and coffee and will try them next time.

                                      1. re: valerie

                                        That was only the second time that I've made brisket. It really is nice to make something that is better the next day and you can freeze easily. It was a big hit.