Braised Brisket Smothered in Onions

Brisket is a tough working muscle that needs to be cooked for a long time at a low temperature. It is commonly either smoked (Texas-barbecue style), or braised, as I’ve made it here. This recipe is adapted from The Silver Spoon cookbook, a classic from New York City’s beloved kitchen supply shop. The onions provide a sweetness that works well with the richness of the brisket, as well they provide more than enough liquid to braise the tough cut of beef.

Brisket comes from the breast area of the steer and consists of two main cuts. The first cut, also called the flat, is the leaner end of the brisket and the second cut, also known as the point or the double, is much fattier, with two muscles bisected by a layer of fat. Both cuts are great, but it depends on which you prefer. The point will be juicier due to the additional fat, but the flat is leaner for those who shy away from extra fat.

Serves 6 to 8


5-6 lbs                 brisket (flat or point)
To taste               salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp               flour (for dusting)
4 tbsp                  vegetable oil, divided
8                          large onions, halved and sliced about ½ inch thick
3 tbsp                  tomato paste
4                          garlic cloves, chopped
2                          medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
4                          bay leaves
6                          thyme branches


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Season the brisket liberally with salt and pepper, then dust it with flour on both sides. Place a large heavy bottom roasting pan (large enough to hold your brisket) over a medium high heat. Add the oil and let it get hot. Lay the brisket in the hot pan and brown on both sides. Once browned (about 7-8 minutes per side), remove the brisket, and set aside on a plate.
  3. Turn the heat down to a medium and add the onions to the roasting pan. Stir well, scraping up the fond on the bottom of the pan left from the brisket. Let the onions cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently until golden brown. Turn the heat off under the pan, then place the browned brisket (and any collected juices) on top of the onions, and spread the tomato paste all over the top of the brisket. Scatter the garlic, carrots, bay leaves, and thyme around the meat. Cover tightly with a double layer of tin foil and place in the over to roast for 1.5 hours.
  4. After 1.5 hours, remove the pan from the oven, and reduce the heat to 325°F. Take the brisket out (it will still be tough), and transfer to a clean cutting board. Slice the brisket against the grain at about 1/8” to ¼” thick, then place the sliced meat back into the roasting pan (the slices should be arranged to look like the original shape of the whole brisket in your pan). Cover tightly again with foil and return to the oven from another 2 to 2.5 hours, checking for tenderness after the 2-hour mark. The brisket should be fork-tender before removing it from the oven.
  5. To serve, spoon the onions and vegetables into a large serving dish and lay the brisket on top, drizzling the sauce from the roast over the meat. Serve extra sauce on the side.

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