Makes 12 servings
I’m not trying to pass any judgement on your grandmother’s cooking. For all I know, her brisket is one of Jewish legend. But this one just might beat it. The key to this recipe – which hits all the right notes of sweet, tangy, and spicy – is the head of garlic, stuffed into the raw meat. Try not to judge a book by its cover: brisket might be the most unphotogenic food out there.
6 lbs brisket
8 garlic cloves, cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
1 quart beef stock
2 large onions, sliced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
2. Using a paring knife, cut small incisions in the meat and shove the pieces of garlic into them. Do this until the meat is stuffed with garlic all over. Place the brisket in a rimmed baking dish (preferably metal) and brown it in the oven, about 10 minutes per side.
3. Remove the meat, and pour in the beef stock (NOTE: if you are using a pyrex dish, wait a few minutes for the pan to acclimate to room temperature so it does not shatter). Turn the oven down to 350 degrees, cover the dish with foil, and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
4. In the meantime, saute the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove the meat from the oven, and add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Using a fork, whisk them all together with the beef stock. When the onions have finished cooking, arrange them on top of the meat. Cover the pan again with foil, and return it to the oven for 2-3 hours. If you want to be able to cut the brisket into slices, take it out at 2 hours, or even a little before. If you want it to be falling apart, more along the lines of a pulled brisket, keep it in for the full 3.
6. Remove the meat from the oven, and transfer it to a cutting board. Slice the brisket against the grain into thick slices. Return the meat to the sauce and serve, or store in the fridge overnight–the brisket can be made a day or two in advance.