When you envision good brisket, you probably picture a slab of meat with a spicy rub ground in and laid on a fire to slowly smoke for hours and hours. Or maybe that's just me because I grew up in the South and beef brisket always comes off a smoker smothered in barbecue sauce and fork tender.
Recently, however, I learned from a Jewish friend of mine that you can also bathe brisket in a richly flavored beef broth, cook it slowly in the oven in a roasting pan, and it comes out delicious, too. Maybe that's why Anthony Bourdain said, "Only Texans and Jews understand brisket." Both just seem to have a knack for taking this tough and unmanageable beef and turning it into something tender and amazing.
What is Brisket?
For the brisket novices out there, I bet you're wondering what this nicely named cut of meat even is. Basically, it is the sum of two distinct muscle groups. There is the brisket flat, which is a wide, slender muscle that is covered in about a quarter inch of fat, but minimal internal marbling.
On top of that, there is the "second cut" that is usually sold at a cheaper price point and is heavily marbled. In my opinion though, it makes for a far more flavorful and moist piece of meat than the flat "first cut".
Realistically, however, you'll do well with either cut of meat. It just depends on your personal preference and chosen method of long cooking.
Some prefer a large Dutch oven, some prefer a stainless steel roasting pan, while others yet go for a rimmed baking sheet. Either way, once you slice brisket you've braised yourself, you'll never look back.
The very best thing about braising any slice of brisket though is that it is the best make-ahead dish you could possibly dream up in terms of an easy cooking process. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that when you are braising a brisket, you should let it cool off completely after the first cooking process only to slowly reheat it when you're ready to serve.
This will give you un unbelievably tender, juicy slice of golden brown meat to sink your teeth into. So that you don't get stuck in a rut, here are 10 ways to enjoy a braised brisket.
1. Basic Braised Brisket
This is an easy, classic, one pot meal that is even better when it is made in advance. There are so many reasons to love brisket and so many ways to keep it interesting.
However, you should definitely start with a simple, traditional recipe that covers a basic braising liquid that makes some seriously delicious pan juices. Like this one here.
2. Beer Braised Brisket
Every Texan knows that beer and brisket belong hand in hand. However, no one has ever specified how close their relationship needs to be. So why not go all in and just let the beer mingle with the meat?
The cooking smells will have you licking your lips before you've even tasted it. And the cooking liquid? Well, the beer suggested is Left Hand Brewing's famous Nitro Milk Stout so you can guess how good it is. Get the recipe here.
3. Bourbon + Coffee Braised Brisket
Do you have a bunch of wayward ingredients that you aren't entirely sure what to do with? This recipe might help you out with a new way to cook brisket.
It takes cranberries, coffee grounds, fennel bulbs, and a splash of bourbon. Then you surround a brisket with all these goodies, wait a few hours, and voila! Dinner is served.
Get the recipe here.
4. Braised Pork Brisket in Milk
Pigs can make brisket, too! Okay, they don't make it, but they certainly have the same cut of meat as a cow on them.
You know you want to see if pig brisket is as delicious as the cow kind. A little lemon juice goes a long way in this recipe, as do the bay leaves. Get the recipe here.
5. Sweet + Savory Braised Brisket
Cherries and carrots add a hint of sweetness to an otherwise savory dish and it's surprisingly pleasing.
Maybe you'll even become brave and branch out to try a whole range of different berries in your brisket sauces. Get the recipe here.
6. Onion-Braised Brisket
Brisket and onions is a classic combination during Passover.
You should definitely try it and see why it became a part of the tradition. Get the recipe here.
7. Red Wine Braised Brisket
It's a known fact that red wine and red meat were a match made in heaven. Maybe it's because they both embody the red factor? Whatever the reason, it's fabulous.
In this recipe, the longer you leave it to stew, the more body the braise will get, which will lead to a deeply and deliciously flavored slice of meat on your plate.
Get the recipe here.
8. Lean Braised Brisket
It's a thing. You can actually cut the fat off a slab of brisket and it will taste good. You just have to know how to cook it well.
Learn how to keep lean brisket moist here.
9. Five Spice Braised Brisket
This is the best of both worlds. Treated with a rub and then bathed in a broth of soy sauce, beef stock, charred ginger, and scallions, this cut of meat has never been more appealing to brisket fans on both sides of the aisle.
Get the recipe here.
10. Sweet + Tangy Brisket
Sometimes you need to venture outside of the box when you take on a traditional recipe. I think this recipe bravely (and successfully) pulls off that feat.
Tomato sauce and Middle Eastern herbs make this tangy brisket an unexpectedly delightful addition to the table. Get the recipe here.