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Substitution for Beer in Brisket Recipe

I love this recipe for brisket. It is easy and absolutely delicious. But I can't use beer when I make it for Passover. What would you suggest as a substitute? I was wondering about ginger beer. Or do I just forget it and go with a more typical recipe?


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  1. Apple juice, Coca Cola, Spriite, 7-Up, etc.

    1. Ginger beer or of course, Coke- a classic!

      4 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        Do you think the ginger beer and cranberry sauce combination will be too sweet? I swore I was going to try this out before the holiday and I didn't.

        1. re: DaisyM

          hmm...perhaps Coke would be better but yes, the ginger would be nice too.

          1. re: DaisyM

            you still have tree weeks, no? I would use ginger beer, looking for a less sweet brand. Do you use vinegar for Passover or have kosher for passover balsamic or apple cider vinegar?

          2. re: monavano

            What about root beer? I have that! Diet but I assume that wouldn't matter. Hmm...

          3. How about some ginger beer and some balsamic vinegar, it would cut the sweetness without being tart.

            1 Reply
            1. re: escondido123

              What is the purpose of beer in this recipe? Do you think the beer is somehow ternderizing the meat or do you think it is for flavor? Meaning do I have to substitute an alcoholic beverage to get the same kind of result? Because I could use wine.....just don't know how that will effect taste.

            2. I can't see how ginger beer would be a substitute for beer. They are not made with the same ingredients, otherwise you wouldn't be thinking of using it. Isn't ginger beer soda? I think you should look up "My Mother's Brisket" on the epicurious website, and use that. It is delicious, and what I use whenever I make brisket. A zizen Pesach to you!

              3 Replies
              1. re: CookieLee

                I have been roasting a chicken that had been defrosting. The skin was getting well browned but the thermometer was reading in the 70's. Finally, I told my husband to cut the chicken up and I'd cook it more. He said to me, 'you do realize you've been looking at the thermometer in celcius." Maybe I need a beer, instead of a ginger beer.

                1. re: CookieLee

                  I see them as very similar-both carbonated but more to importantly full of carbohydrates/sugars.

                2. I have substituted beef stock for beer (ale) in Zuni's Short Rib recipe.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: DaisyM

                      Very Well. It used to be a chore to purchase Chimay Ale, so now I often sub beef stock.

                  1. Daisy, if you are making a very "kosher" Passover seder, please be careful about the cranberry sauce being OK. I believe it might have food starch or ingredients not considered OK for Passover. I use the chili sauce recipe normally and I know the chili sauce is not kosher for Passover. I am not the Passover police, but wouldn't want you to go to effort only not to have your guests eat it.

                    I would sub in red wine, something not too sweet. If you are looking for something sweet and sour, I have a great Passover brisket recipe with tomatoes, onions, brown sugar, celery, garlic. Let me know.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                      Diane, Thank you! I would love your recipe. I don't have a can of cranberry sauce to check. I remember being concerned about corn syrup, but checked and there wasn't any in it. But it would be great to have a sweet and sour recipe that is proven. Thank you.

                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        Diane's Brisket for Passover

                        Brisket, at least 4-5 lb., either 1st cut (not so fatty), point (2nd cut) or whole (both 1st & 2nd)

                        At least 3-4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced in half moons, more if you have large brisket

                        3-4 ribs of celery sliced and leaves chopped, more if >5 lbs.

                        S&P (1 T of ea)

                        3-4 T of minced garlic

                        32 oz. dry red wine

                        1 can Rokeach tomato/mushroom sauce

                        1 ½ cups beef broth, not from bouillon cube! Buy some canned broth (College Inn), but your own is best

                        ½ cup brown sugar (to taste)

                        ¼ cup red wine vinegar (to taste), kosher for Passover

                        Olive oil

                        In large saute pan, brown onions and celery in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil till well browned (15 min or so), stirring often. Reserve vegetables. Optional – thoroughly brown brisket in few more tablespoons olive oil on both sides (at least 10 min per side).

                        Preheat oven to 300F. Spray roasting pan with Pam for easier clean up or line with aluminum foil. Layer half onion/celery mixture in bottom. Sprinkle brisket on both sides with mixture of s&p and chopped garlic. Lay FAT SIDE UP on top of onion/celery mixture, add remaining veggies.

                        In very large microwavable bowl, combine wine, tomato/mushroom sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, red wine vinegar. Microwave on high for 3-4 min to dissolve sugar, stir and taste. You can adjust with more sugar or vinegar, depending on your taste. Pour over brisket. Roast brisket with lid on or covered at 300F for 3-4 hours (5 lb), 45 min/lb. more for anything over that.

                        VERY IMPORTANT – chill brisket and sauce in refrigerator. Before freezing or slicing, defat fatty covering on top of meat. Skim all fat from sauce. Brisket needs to be sliced AGAINST the grain. BE AWARE on whole brisket, the grain runs several DIFFERENT ways, so check!

                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                          Hello... I hope your Passover went well! I am here for the same reason, except it's not Passover for me. I'm Muslim, and we don't use any alcohol at all in cooking or anything else. :) What made me giggle was the reference to "passover police." Haha! I look out for the "haram police!" They are especially bad on facebook. Hahah!

                          I think I'll just try beef broth. Take care all!

                          1. re: Dazey

                            Hi Dazey,

                            Also good (and non alcoholic) if you're using beef stock/broth is the addition of stewed tomatoes, if you like them.

                        2. We have used pineapple juice, one of those tiny cans, with brisket. As we are not Jewish, I hve no idea of whether it is Kosher, but DH's Jewish cousin said it was great. The biggest thing with brisket is to cook it at about 225 degrees until it has reached 190 - 200d degrees in the center of the meat. This temp is what disperses the collagen into the meat making it juicy and tender.

                          1 Reply
                          1. I'd use a combination of coffee and beef stock.

                            1. we use cider vinegar, ketchup, spices, onion garlic, and some whiskey.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: fara

                                Whiskey? Isn't that made from grain? Surely not kosher for Pesach.

                                1. re: BobB

                                  oops. i thought of that too late-sorry. the recipe is just as good w/out it. cider vinegar makes it and some fresh ginger and bay leaf round it out. iadd cumin, cayenne as well.

                                2. re: fara

                                  Brandy can be substituted for the Whiskey as it is made from grapes (Kosher brandys are available)

                                3. I'd think a dry hard cider would work well. Canned cranberry sauce may have corn syrup, though.

                                  1. My mom's Jewish-style brisket recipe uses a mixture of equal parts red wine and water - I think that would work here, though I don't know if she has ever used anything as sweet as Manischevitz.

                                    1. I am having this very same problem. What I have decided to do is substitute one cup white wine and a half a cup brandy for the 12 oz of beer the recipe calls for.
                                      Here is my recipe:
                                      1/2 pound cured and smoked beef plate (or beef bacon), chopped
                                      2 lb brisket
                                      Spice rub: (mix all of these ingredients before applying to brisket)
                                      (2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
                                      2 tablespoons salt
                                      2 tablespoons garlic powder
                                      1 tablespoon black pepper
                                      1 tablespoon onion powder
                                      1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
                                      1 tablespoon dried oregano
                                      1 tablespoon dried thyme)
                                      2 large onions, sliced very thinly ( i used a mandoline)
                                      4-8 cloves garlic, minced
                                      2 tablespoons tomato paste
                                      1 cup dry white wine
                                      1/2 cup brandy
                                      1 cup beef broth
                                      2 packages dried exotic mushrooms- I think I used chantrells and porchinis (which I soaked in water as directed)
                                      I also added fresh oregano, thyme, a sprig of rosemary, and some sage
                                      1/4 cup brown sugar (optional--- to taste... more or less might be necessary)

                                      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
                                      In a Dutch Oven cook the beef plate in 1 tablespoon water over moderate heat until crispy (with the beef plate you might have to press them to remove any excess water and use a little oil to crisp up the pieces). Transfer to paper towels to drain. Pat brisket dry and season with salt, pepper and spice rub. Brown in beef plate fat (you may need to add a little oil). Transfer brisket to platter. Add the onions to the Dutch oven and cook until softened, I really caramelized them. Add the mushrooms and saute for a bit. Add the garlic and the tomato paste. Cook 1 minute more. Add the wine, brandy, broth, and crispy beef bits. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Taste braising liquid and add sugar if desired to taste. Put the Brisket into the Dutch oven or transfer to your roasting pan (I just put it in the ditch oven but...) and Braise, covered, in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. (The recipe called for adding veggies, like carrots, parsnip, button mushrooms and potatoes towards the end (like for the last hour) but I just roast them separately.) Transfer the brisket (and vegetables if you added them) with a slotted spoon to a plate and keep warm, covered. Bring the braising liquid to a boil. Let sauce reduce over high heat until thickened. Season sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. I had to add a little margarine and flour paste to help thicken it up a bit. Slice the brisket against the grain and arrange it on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the brisket and serve the remaining sauce separately.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: theashley

                                        There's corn syrup in cranberry sauce....GRRR!

                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                            You are right...Trader Joe's doesn't have corn syrup!

                                      2. Late to the party, but I'd use a good unfiltered apple cider maybe. Would be a good substitute for beer. I think apple cider is as good with beef as it is pork for sure.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rcbaughn

                                          Thanks! I was late to the party, too. I guess we'll just have another one! :-) Apple Cider.. I was wondering if root beer would work. It's diet though.. not sure what happens to aspertame when it's cooked. I sure would hate to ruin this!

                                          1. re: Dazey

                                            I would imagine that the aspartame would turn acrid, and it sure wont caramelize like sugar would that's for sure. I'd probably hold off on that, but who knows maybe it would be good! I just hate diet drink flavors so I can't imagine it getting better when getting reduced down to even stronger flavors! Ha.