At Passover, beef brisket is a mainstay for the seder meal. The eight-day Passover observance begins this year at sundown Monday.
Passover commemorates and reflects on the escape of Jews from slavery in Egypt.
It's no wonder people turn to brisket. This big hunk of meat, which can average 10-15 pounds whole, can feed a lot of people and adapts well to advance preparation.
That's the common theme among brisket cooks -- make the brisket at least a day ahead.
Ruthe Goldstein, 73, of West Bloomfield, Mich., who adapted her recipe from a 1950s cookbook, says it's easier to slice when it's cold.
"The other secret to it being so good is reheating it in the gravy," she says.
Carol Schwartz of Birmingham, Mich., braises her brisket on the stovetop. Ms. Schwartz believes the recipe may have stemmed from the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, when it's customary to dip apples in honey.
June Burk's Passover brisket originated with her mother and grandmother. "You have to make it in advance, at least a day," says Ms. Burk, 66, of Oak Park, Ill., "so it sits in the gravy before you slice it."
Ms. Burk says that's part of what makes brisket great for company -- you make it in advance and just warm it up.
"You can put potatoes and carrots in it, and it's really a one-roasting-pan meal," Ms. Burk says.
What makes hers special is not only the sweet and sour taste but the fact that it's become a favorite of friends, who often request it for holiday gatherings.
"It's kind of nice and gives you a good feeling, since we don't have family here," she says.
Ruthe Goldstein’s Passover Brisket
1 beef brisket, about 5 to 6 pounds, trimmed of some excess fat
2 large onions, peeled and sliced, divided
3-4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
1 pound bag of baby carrots
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 celery ribs
1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
12 ounces (1½ cups) Concord grape wine
1 cup water
Cook’s notes: This dish is best prepared a day ahead. If your brisket is larger than 5 or 6 pounds, double the chili sauce and wine.
Preheat the oven to 400°. In the bottom of a roaster large enough to hold the brisket, place about half of the sliced onions. Put potatoes and carrots on top of the onions. Season the brisket on both sides with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Put another layer of onions on top of the brisket and place the celery ribs on top of onions. Pour chili sauce over the celery and onions and then pour wine over all. Pour 1 cup water around sides of brisket.
Cover and roast for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325° and roast for an additional 3½ hours. Remove roast from oven and set aside to cool, at least one hour. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove all congealed fat from the roast and the gravy. Remove roast from pan and slice it thinly against the grain. Place the meat slices back in the gravy, reheat in a 350° oven for 1½-2 hours.
Yield: 12 servings
Source: Ruthe Goldstein
Per serving: 617 calories (41 percent from fat), 27 grams fat (12 grams sat. fat), 30 grams carbohydrates, 56 grams protein, 677 mg sodium, 172 mg cholesterol, 6 grams fiber.
June Burk’s Brisket
½ cup oil
1 flat-cut beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds)
4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
1 pound bag of mini carrots
5 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into medium chunks
2 packages dry onion soup
1½ cups ketchup
2 cups or more warm water
Cook’s note: This dish is best prepared a day ahead.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour oil in large roasting pan and set it over medium heat on the stovetop. When the oil is hot, add the brisket to the pan and sear until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
Sprinkle the smashed garlic all around in the pan along with the carrots and potatoes. Sprinkle the top of the brisket with the dry onion soup mix. Cover the brisket with the ketchup, using more if needed, so it completely covers the meat. Pour warm water so it comes almost to the top of the brisket.
Cover the pan tightly with foil, crimping it so it seals.
Roast for 3 hours and do not peek.
Remove from the oven. The brisket should be fork-tender. Let cool completely and then place in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, skim off any congealed fat. Slice the meat thinly and place the slices back in the gravy.
Reheat in a 350° oven and serve with the carrots and potatoes.
Leftovers can be frozen.
Yield: 8 generous servings
Source: June Burk
Per serving: 701 calories (36 percent from fat), 28 grams fat (6 grams sat. fat), 41 grams carbohydrates, 70 grams protein, 822 mg sodium, 137 mg cholesterol, 5 grams fiber.
Carol Schwartz’s Brisket with Apples and Honey
1 flat-cut brisket (about 3 to 3½ pounds)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup boiling water
1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 carrots, peeled, cut into thick slices
1 rib celery, sliced
1 large apple, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons honey
Cook’s note: The brisket is easier to slice if refrigerated overnight and sliced the next day.
Brush the brisket with soy sauce and sprinkle it with garlic powder. Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or pot that is large enough to hold the brisket.
Place the brisket in the pot and brown on both sides.
In a bowl, mix the boiling water, onion soup mix and ketchup. Pour the mixture over the brisket. Add the carrots, celery, and apple. Drizzle with the honey. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
Remove meat and allow it to cool. Transfer the pan juices including apples, carrots, and celery to a blender. Pulse to blend all of the ingredients to make the gravy.
Slice the brisket against the grain and serve with the gravy.
Reheat leftovers in a 350° oven by putting the slices in a dish and pouring the gravy over them.
Yield: 10 servings
Source: Carol Schwartz
Per serving: 394 calories (33 percent from fat), 14 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 11 grams carbohydrates, 54 grams protein, 270 mg sodium, 110 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.