Edna Lewis Oven Brisket

Our Edna Lewis oven brisket recipe is a classic. It’s an eminently affordable Sunday supper made with a bare minimum of ingredients—essentially just brisket, onions, and love.

An enamel baking dish holding a sliced oven brisket topped with onions with jus on the side.

Edna Lewis was well known and loved for many reasons. Her spare prose. Her soulful recipes. Her kitchen frugality. Her endless wisdom—and not just as it pertains to culinary matters. All these attributes come together in this oven brisket recipe which is flavored with onions and pan drippings. Ms. Lewis relied on brisket as opposed to other cuts of meat as it possesses “a bit more taste than some of the other more expensive, better-known cuts,” she says. She suggests you use whatever size brisket is available “so long as you purchase half as many onions as beef.”Originally published April 21, 2011.Edna Lewis

How To Trust Your Inner Edna Lewis

This recipe was originally written entirely in Edna’s inimitably charming, albeit rather spare, style. What we mean is there was a certain amount of knowledge she assumed on the part of the home cook—namely specific temperatures and timings and seasonings. Understandably. Back in her day, cooking was done by instinct, a knowing 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

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Serves 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • 3 pounds brisket
  • Salt and freshly ground black 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 brisket 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 pretty well browned. Sprinkle the brisket 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. 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.


    1. 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!

  2. 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

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