Brisket, the Classic Recipe

Every Passover, at least one guest asks us how we made the brisket.  Here’s my mom’s recipe for brisket, or as we used to call it af Idish, flanken.  It uses the classic Eastern European “gedempt” or braising cooking method.

Slab(s) of brisket, about 100g (just less than 1/4 lb) per serving
Onions, about 1 per serving
Bay leaves
Olive oil

Brown the onions in olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  Use lots of them, I really mean lots, as in about 10 medium onions per kilo of meat – this is what gives an otherwise bland dish its flavour.  To brown the onions, start them on high heat, and reduce the heat as the onions begin to brown to prevent burning.  You’ll know they’re done when they are a translucent golden brown.  Don’t forget to run your extractor fan!

Cut the slab(s) of brisket into pieces that will just fit into your casserole dish. Preheat your oven to 180C = 350F.

Clean the skillet you just used for browning the onions, and dry thoroughly.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in the skillet, and then brown the slab(s) for about 5 minutes each side.  Place the browned slab(s) in the casserole dish, smothering the slab(s) in the browned onions.  Layer if necessary, slab-onion-slab-onion. Squish any excess browned onion around the sides of the slabs.

Pour in enough boiled water to cover the slabs.  Add a bay leaf or two, and as many whole peppercorns as you’re comfortable with.  Cover the casserole dish, and bake for 3-4 hours, turning the slabs and adding water to ensure they’re covered every hour or so.

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing the slabs from the broth and carving into long slices, cutting against the grain with a very sharp knife.  Serve with the broth as gravy.