In our house, we typically have brisket for dinner twice a year. Every New Year on erev Rosh Hashanah, and every 1st night of Pesach (Passover). Jori prefers a sweet brisket recipe using a sauce of onion soup mix, cranberry sauce, and ketchup, mixed with enough ginger ale to braise, and I prefer a red wine and onion braise that is not sweet. However, this year, Jori found a new recipe on the internet for a savory brisket that we tried for the first time, and I think it is great. Here is the link: http://www.jewishfoodsociety.org/blog/2017/9/13/0wzyow6opxrfbippydthdpejgq3zl8
The back story of this recipe is interesting. This is the brisket made by Walter Ferst’s grandmother in Philadelphia. A branch of the family that was in Germany was fortunate enough to leave in the mid 1930’s and ended up in Sweden. In the 1970’s Walter reconnected with his cousins in Stockholm and had a family dinner with them. He recognized the smells and realized he was being served the same meal as his Grandmother’s favorite brisket.
Holiday Brisket with Garlic, White Wine and Onions
Disclaimer: We did not make the Ferst recipe as detailed below, but a modified version.
Kauffman/Ferst Family Braised Brisket
Serves: 12 to 15
Time: 4 hours, plus 20 minutes resting time
One 7 to 8 pound whole brisket, flat and deckle attached
14 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons Hungarian or sweet paprika
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 medium (2½ pounds) sweet onions, cut crosswise into thick slices
3 cups dry white wine
1½ cups water
Large roasting pan
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Rinse the brisket and trim any excessive hanging pieces of fat, leaving the majority in tact for cooking. Make 14 small ½-inch incisions in the brisket and insert a whole clove of garlic into each.
2. Season both sides of the brisket with the salt, paprika and pepper, then place in the center of a large roasting pan, fat side up. Pin whole slices of onion to the meat with toothpick to completely cover the brisket, scattering the remaining slices around the brisket.
3. Mix the water and wine together and pour over the brisket. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
4. Cook until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork 3 to 3½ hours, then remove the foil and continue to cook for 45 minutes, basting with liquid every 10 minutes.
4. Let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes and remove toothpSicks before carving and serving with the pan juices.
Now, here is what we did with the Ferst recipe:
Jori looked at this recipe and decided to take some of the techniques from her cranberry/ginger ale method, and incorporated parts of the Ferst recipe. She used a first cut brisket, trimmed of some but not all of the fat cap. She seared it for 15 min per side at 400ºF first in the roasting pan. She removed the brisket, made slits down into the fat cap into the meat one inch apart and put in slivers (not whole cloves) of garlic. Placing the meat back in the roasting pan, she covered the fat cap with the sliced onions. She didn’t use paprika or toothpicks and didn’t cook it uncovered. She used a combination of white wine and water in a ratio of 2:1 to cover the brisket. Covering the pan tightly with foil, she cooked the brisket at 350ºF for 2 1/2 more hours. Taking all the onions off, she removed the brisket to the refrigerator. The pan drippings were strained and the fat was removed with a fat separator. She puréed the cooked onions in the Blendtec with the deglazed pan juices, and this made a marvelous sauce. It is very helpful if you have a Vitamix or a Blendtec to get the sauce to the correct degree of purée, but using a regular blender, powerful stick blender, or a food processor could be OK.
Brisket is always easier to cut when cold, so we wait until the next day to slice the brisket, removing excess fat from the slices. The slices are then reheated with the sauce from the deglazed pan drippings and the onions in a 325ºF oven. The use of the white wine instead of the typical red wine resulted in a much more interesting taste and smooth texture.
A day or so later, we were at Costco and saw whole brisket Grade Prime for $2.99/pound. I thought that we had to try this. The smallest one we found was 8 1/2 pounds. Between trimming of fat, shrinkage during cooking, and trimming of fat from the sliced pieces, we ended up with about 3 1/2 pounds of meat! The result was amazingly tender. Now, I know that I can’t expect to get Prime brisket at that price again soon, but it was worth it!