Brisket is the chameleon of meats. There are so many ways to dress it up or down, but the bottom line is that if you braise it they will come.
This year I was so confused about the various wonderful recipes that had come my way from different sources that I decided to do a taste test and make three small platters of brisket instead of one large one. It seemed a little silly but there was going to be a built-in audience to help me judge which one would be the best to carry forward so I jumped in and did my experiment.
There was my traditional brisket, the one my grandmother and mother made and the one I’ve always done (husband’s comment: “If it’s not broke…”); there was a similar one but with different seasonings that included brown sugar and vinegar and involved overnight marinating to tenderize it (came highly recommended from a trustworthy source!); and there was the new brisket on the block: the winner of an actual temple brisket bake-off (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, herself from Polish stock so the Eastern European thing was there).
Our Passover seder was wonderful. Meaningful service, beautiful camaraderie and warmth all around; everyone brought something delicious so although the menu was ambitious and there was A LOT of food, it was amazing. And the brisket experiment? Well, the verdict was pretty evenly divided, with some in the group more vocal than others. But the bottom line was that the two traditional ones were tasty but the new one was so unexpected and savory that it may have won on shock value! Here is that recipe and it comes with a warning: Make a lot!
Coffee Barbecue Brisket
3 pounds beef brisket
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup strong black coffee (you can use decaf but I didn’t)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pat brisket with a paper towel and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine coffee, ketchup, chili sauce, honey, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and soy sauce.
Warm oil in a large Dutch oven and place meat fat side down.
Sear quickly over medium-high heat about 5 minutes per side, then remove meat to a platter.
Reduce heat to low; put onion in pan and let it cook until soft and transparent but not burned, about 10 minutes.
Put meat back into pan on top of onion and pour coffee mixture over the meat.
Cover and bake, flipping meat halfway through, until meat shreds easily with a fork, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours at least.
Remove from oven and cool.
When cooled, slice on the bias against the grain.
Transfer remaining sauce from Dutch oven to a gravy boat and serve with meat.
This can be made in advance or frozen and re-heated. As with all braised briskets, it will taste better the next day or even the day after that.