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Holiday Braised Brisket

December 27, 2012

By now you’ve had the turkey, you’ve had the prime rib, you’ve had the ham, the chicken, maybe even the roast goose and you still need something to serve for New Year’s. 

I say, go with a braise….all the way.

Holiday Braised Brisket

My dad called me on Christmas day with a beef tenderloin horror story. His meat thermometer broke and by the time he realized it, the big, expensive piece of meat was already in the oven. Flying blind he tried to wing it, checking on it and checking on it and checking on it again. Upon inspection around dinner time it seemed too rare so back in it went and well, you know how that goes, a lot of money and dreams of a juicy roast down the drain.

Let this be a lesson to everyone to go with a braise. A braised roast is always juicy, can be ignored for hours and can (and really should) be completely made a day or two in advance with only slicing and reheating before dinner.

Braised Brisket with Onions and Mushrooms

I first made this brisket a long time ago and thoughts of its tender slices swathed in rich onion and mushroom sauce had me swooning. The brisket is rubbed with fresh herbs and sweet paprika, then browned and covered with a tangle of sliced onions and mushrooms which turn into a caramel-colored, meltingly tender sauce. It is made for celebrations—easy to prepare and elegant on the table.

Holiday Braised Brisket

Holiday Braised Brisket

Yield: 6

Inspired by Bruce Aidells

Make Ahead: Like all braised dishes this roast is best made a day or two in advance. Let the meat cool in the sauce then cover and refrigerate up to 3 days in advance. Skim the fat from the surface and slice the brisket. Return the brisket to the roasting pan with the sauce, cover and rewarm in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 20 minutes.


  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 (6-pound) beef brisket
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic


  1. Combine 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, the thyme, marjoram, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub seasoning all over brisket and let set at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 500°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Pour olive oil into a large roasting pan and place in the oven to heat, about 15 minutes or until oil is shimmering and very hot. Carefully place brisket, fat side down, in the hot pan and return to the oven. Brown one side of the brisket (about 8 minutes) then flip and brown other side, about 5-8 more minutes. (I do this in the oven because I don't have a frying pan big enough to accommodate a 6-pound roast. If you do, feel free to do this browning step on the stove-top.)
  3. Remove pan from oven and reduce heat to 350°F. Transfer the brisket to a platter and pour off any excess fat from the roasting pan. Add wine, stock, tomatoes, and bay leaves to the pan and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom. Return brisket to the pan, fat side up, and scatter the mushrooms, onions, and garlic over the meat and into the liquid. Cover and and braise in the oven for 1 hour.
  4. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes. Spoon the onions and mushrooms on top of the brisket and cook for about 30 minutes longer to brown the vegetables. Push some of the vegetables back into the liquid, cover and braise for about 2 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
  5. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Simmer the sauce for another 10 minutes or so to thicken slightly. (You can do this by placing the roasting pan over two burners on the stove-top or transfer the sauce to a medium-sized pot and simmer that way.) Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Discard the bay leaves.
  6. Carve the brisket against the grain and arrange on a platter. Spoon the onion and mushroom sauce over the meat and serve.

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  • Taminie December 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I whole heartedly agree….! I did not enjoy the anxiety of producing the perfect Prime Rib last year. I can’t wait to try this recipe and maybe we’ll start a new Christmas tradition! Great photos too.

  • figment studio December 29, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Hi Kate, Happy to find your site again and thank you for the holiday cookies; I’m eating the tasty morsels as I type. I enjoyed the visit yesterday by Amando and family, Hiro changes so quickly and Louisa is charming as always.
    The brisket and onion/mushroom photos are enticing, I think I’ll givea try.