Beer Braised Brisket of Beef
This delicious and simple recipe transforms an ordinary piece of meat into an extraordinary meal. And there are 10 good reasons to do it.
- It is easy to make. (And hard to screw up.)
- It’s inexpensive.
- It requires only one pot.
- It produces its own glorious gravy.
- It makes your house smell really, really good.
- It’s at least as good the next day. (“It makes a nice sandwich.”)
- It can feed a lot of people.
- It’s an extremely adaptable recipe.
- Everyone loves it—kids and grownups alike. (Vegetarians, not so much.)
- Most important, it’s mouthwateringly delicious and “fall-off-the-bone” tender. And there’s not even a bone.
Yes, my friends: say hello to Beer Braised Brisket of Beef. The name brisket itself may not be sexy, but the dish is.
You need only a few things to proceed:
- A large pot with a tight-fitting lid that’s big enough to house the hunk of meat you’re about to cook. It is generally called a stockpot or the more interesting-sounding “dutch oven.”
- The meat, onions, garlic, some type of tomato product and beer. Salt, pepper and oil also come into play.
- A little bit of patience; magnificence can’t be rushed.
- 1 beef brisket (about 3 pounds)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 large onions, peeled and sliced
- 2–3 bottles lager or amber beer (can substitute with 3 cups beef or vegetable broth)
- 10-ounce can crushed tomatoes or 1 small can tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot Hungarian paprika (optional, but nice if you like a little kick)
- Pat the brisket dry. With the tip of a sharp knife, make slits in both sides of the meat and stuff with thin slices of garlic. The more you like garlic, the more slits you'll make. Season each side very generously with 2/3 of the salt and pepper.
- Place oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high flame. When hot, brown the brisket on both sides, lowering heat as necessary so as not to burn. You're looking for a nice brown color, not burnt.
- When browned, add beer, onions, remaining salt, tomato product and cayenne if you're using. There should be enough liquid to cover about 2/3 of the brisket. If you need more liquid, you can also use broth to supplement the beer. Stir and bring mixture to boil, then lower the flame so that broth remains "simmering"—that is, not vigorous, but still moving gently. Cover the pot. (You can leave it on top of stove or place in a 325-degree preheated oven.)
- Cook until meat is very tender but not totally falling apart, at least two hours. More is fine. Just make sure to check along the way to ensure that you still have sufficient liquid in the pot to partially cover the meat. Add more if necessary.
- Remove brisket to a carving board and cover it with aluminum foil. Now look at the remaining oniony broth/gravy and decide if you like what you see or you would like it to be thicker. If there is a lot of liquid, you can reduce it considerably by putting it back on the stovetop, at a higher temperature, and cook until it reaches the consistency you desire. This can take a good 20 to 30 minutes if you have a lot of liquid in the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary. Then slice brisket against the grain and top with onion gravy.
- Serve alongside something that will welcome all the sauce, like mashed potatoes, noodles, couscous or a baguette and some bagged salad greens with a sprinkle of olive oil, lemon and salt.
- Once you understand the basic technique of searing and braising you can customize your own version with a variety of flavorful additions that excite you: 40 cloves of garlic, herbs like thyme or a little rosemary, spices such as cumin, cinnamon or curry powder, red wine instead of beer, dried apricots, or carrots and parsnips added during the last hour of cooking.
- If you're not in the mood for brisket, go ahead and braise short ribs. The concept is the same: season and sear the meat, add aromatics like garlic and onion, and then cook slowly in a flavorful liquid until it gets as tender as you are tough.