Edna Lewis’s Oven Brisket

Edna Lewis' Oven Brisket Recipe

Beef was more available in the spring and summer and it was inexpensive as well, being locally butchered. We would take a big piece so that we could have some left for slicing cold. Locally grown beef had such great flavor. Because of the lack of flavor in beef today, I have searched and found that the more unpopular cuts, such has brisket, have a bit more taste than some of the other more expensive, better-known cuts. For this preparation, you can vary the size of the brisket so long as you purchase half as many onions as beef.–Edna Lewis

LC Trust Your Inner Edna Note

This recipe was originally written in Edna’s inimitably charming, albeit rather spare, style. What we’re trying to say is there were a few things assumed on the part of the home cook when it came to specific temperatures and timings and even seasoning the sauce. Understandably. Back in her day, cooking was done by instinct, a trait that came with practice. Anticipating a little confusion in today’s home kitchen, we snuck in a few specifics here and there. Still, there are places that allow for the cook’s discretion. Embrace it.

Edna Lewis' Oven Brisket Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Serves 6


  • 3 pounds brisket
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3 or 4 whole allspice berries
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  • 2. Pat the meat dry and season it with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, slick it with just a little oil, then add the brisket. Sear it well on all sides until well-browned. Place the seared brisket in a heavy ovenproof pot or pan such as a Dutch oven.
  • 3. Wipe the skillet out and then add the butter or oil and onions and return to medium-highish heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are pretty well browned. Sprinkle the meat with pepper then add the browned onions, allspice, and bay. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 225°F (107°C) and let cook undisturbed for 2 1/2 hours.
  • 4. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board to rest. Spoon off any visible fat from surface of the pan juices and discard the bay leaf. Spoon the onions into a sieve or strainer, place it over the pan juices, and press the onions through the sieve, discarding any solids. If desired, strain again and reduce over medium heat for a few minutes. Taste and season the pan juices with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 5. Slice the brisket and serve with the pan juices.
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  1. J Susan Hayes says:

    Edna’s spare style is perfect in an overly wordy world and I thank her for it. The brisket turned out perfection, too. The onions made the gravy all on their own that was amazing. There is no better dinner on a plate than this. Wish we had this kind of simplicity over and over. JSH

  2. Hello. I am a film maker in Atlanta. I produced a 21 minute documentary about Edna Lewis and her life, “Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie.” It was a unique pleasure to get to know Miss Lewis in her last years.

    • Eva says:

      Great documentary! – thank you very much for preserving Edna Lewis’ story.

    • Anonymous says:

      I saw it and loved it. The ending had me in tears. You captured all of the most important, and even unexpected elements, of her culinary journey. Bravo!

  3. Thank you. It is a tribute to Edna Lewis that her writing and her recipes continue to inspire people and give them pleasure. In my film I also hope to convey the timelessness of her contribution.


  4. Georgine says:

    How much time should I add for cooking a larger piece of brisket – proportional??

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