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Dec 23, 2010 02:12 AM

How long to cook a brisket?

I have a 6lb beef brisket to serve for Christmas dinner - 11 people. How long should I cook the brisket? I've done smaller ones that took about 2 hrs., but never anything this size. I don't want to do it too long and have it dried out. Save me! Save my brisket!

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  1. ok...deep breath!!
    can you possibly cook it the day before?
    This will make it even more flavorful!
    Braise it for about 3 1/2 hours at 325-350. If you can't easily slide a fork into it, give it another 30 minutes,
    Cover and refrigerate. On Christmas day, de-fat the braising liquid, slice the brisket and return it to your pan, add back de-fatted braising liquids and reheat it at (preheated oven) 325-350 for about 30 minutes.

    If you braise and serve the same day, you can cook it until tender (NOT falling apart-you want it to hold its slices together) and skim the fat off the top of the braising liquid before serving.
    Good luck, and remember, LOW AND SLOW, and have enough braising liquid in your cooking vessal.
    BTW, Barefoot Contessa has a great recipe for a huge brisket like yours!

    8 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      Thank you. I had planned to do what you're suggesting - cook it tomorrow, put it in the frig overnight and then slice it, de-fat the liquid, put it all back in the pan and cook if for 30-45 minutes. That's what I've done with smaller (2 - 2 1/2 lb) briskets and they turn out great. I have never done one this size and I was concerned about cooking it too long and dying it out. It's HUGE! Thanks, again, monavano!

      1. re: bucksguy14

        If your Brisket includes the Point Section(whole packer), You may want to separate it when the First Cut is done, or even before you start your braise......the point takes more time to become tender.

        1. re: fourunder

          It is not cryovac. It is fresh, bought from the butcher late yesterday.

          1. re: bucksguy14

            Did you ever try Alton Brown's Double Tin Wrapped Brisket with a Can of Tomatoes?

            Very easy and makes a nice sauce....Depending on oven temperature and braising liquid's not unusual for a brisket to exceed four hours cook time. Patience is a virtue.

            1. re: fourunder

              Patience and time will be be abundant tomorrow! Not only haven't I tried Alton Brown's Double Tin Wrapped Brisket with a Can of Tomatoes, I didn't get a hit when I Googled for it.

              1. re: bucksguy14

                I guess the recipe isn't popular... In a nutshell, he takes about 4 feet of foil and folds it over. Place the seasoned brisket onto the foil and fashion a pouch by raising the sides. Add a can of crushed or diced tomatoes. Complete the pouch by double folding the seams to create a tight seal. Place the pouch in a shallow lipped roasting pan. Bake in the oven for 3.0-4.0 hours @ moderate heat, say 300-325......Lift the pouch and pop a hole in any corner of the pouch and pour out all the liquid/sauce/gravy. Transfer the pouch to the cutting board. Done

        2. re: bucksguy14

          I can't tell whether or not you're going to slice the brisket after the first cooking or in the morning after it has been refrigerated overnight. I suggest you slice after the first cooking, but only after the meal has cooled. If you do the long cooking early in the day of the day, the brisket and cooking liquid will cool enough to do nice thin slices and de-fat the liquid before you go to sleep.

          Lay the sliced brisket back in the pan, along with the liquid and continue to chill overnight. (You don't give your recipe, but if yours includes vegetable slices, place some vegetables between the slices as spacers so the liquid will come in contact with each slice of meat.)

          Some final suggestions: A brisket that large isn't going to reheat in 30-45 minutes unless you take it out of the refrigerator in advance of cooking and let it come to room temperature. Frankly, I'd rather see you reheat it 45-60 minutes at a lower temperature (e.g. 300-325) than 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

          At both stages of the cooking process, make sure you have a very, very tight seal on your cooking vessel. When I cook brisket, I use the Pyrex 13" x 9" baking dish (or it's big sibling for larger quantities) and I wrap it with three layers of aluminum foil. You do not want liquid evaporating.

          1. re: Indy 67

            Indy 67 - I plan on slicing after the first cooking. I'll have carrots, celery, onion, garlic in with the meat so there will be the opportunity to separate the slices. Thanks for the tip to increase the time. I have a roasting pan with a pretty tight-fitting lid, but I'm going to put foil across the pan prior to putting the lid in place. I think that should eliminate any chance of evaporation occurring. Thanks for the helpful suggestions.

      2. I just made "Granda Ethel's Brisket and Tzimmes" from Epicurious this week, using a 6 lb brisket. Took about 4 hours of braising at 350 (though the recipe requires you to open it up and add ingredients a couple of times, which might account for the extra cooking time). Cooled for 12 hours, sliced, and reheated for 45 minutes the next day. Absolutely perfect. That recipe is delicious, too - reminds me of my grandma's holiday brisket.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monopod

          Thanks, monopod. "grandma's holiday brisket" should be what we're all aiming to duplicate!

        2. The brisket was a success, according to those at the table! Cooked it for 4 hours, sliced it, cooked it an additional hour, let it cool and put it in the frig overnight. Took it out about 3 hours before dinner and de-fatted it. Put it back in the oven for an hour before serving dinner. Only thing I'd change is adding a few more veggies Thanks to everyone who replied!

          2 Replies
          1. re: bucksguy14

            So you sliced it immediately after the first cooking, and then kept cooking for one more hour, prior to refrigerating and de-fatting? Interesting. That's not the typical preparation of slow cook, fridge, defat, slice, reheat. I'm glad it turned out very well for you. I'm curious, though, of why you chose to slice it while still in it's first cooking (and presumably still very hot?). Not at all criticizing, just intrigued.

            1. re: foreverhungry

              I guess the short answer is "that's the way I've always done pot roasts". My real issue, and the reason for this post, was I had never done a brisket bigger than 4 lbs, give-or-take, and I was concerned about the cooking time for a 6 lb brisket.

          2. Ok, you have now all intrigued me. I make brisket a lot for holidays and have always put the brisket on foil in a large roaster, poured the liquid and seasonings over it, closed the foil tightly around it encasing all of the liquid in with the meat, and baked in the oven at 325 for 4 hours or so. Then I take the meat out, let it cool and wrap it in foil to put in the fridge overnight. I put the liquid in a separate vessel and then the next morning I defat it. I then slice the meat, place it in a glass dish and ladle the liquid over the top of the meat and then reheat in the oven. Always comes out well. But, many of you posters talk about slicing the meat before you cool it in the refrigerator. Frankly, it certainly would be easier to slice when it is room temperature. But, does it dry out in the fridge without any of the liquid in the pan with it? Would love to hear your experiences. Thanks.