Nach Waxman’s Beef Brisket

This beef brisket from Nach Waxman, owner of the unparalleled Kitchen Arts & Letters cookbook store in Manhattan, is perhaps the most Googled brisket recipe ever. The reason is a unique technique: The brisket is partially cooked, removed from the oven, and sliced. It’s then returned to the oven to cook completely. Juicy, deeply flavorful, and amazingly tender. Genius.

Slices of Nach Waxman's beef brisket on a cutting board

Nach Waxman has the world’s most Googled best brisket recipe, asserts author Stephanie Pierson of the founder of Manhattan’s Kitchen Arts & Letters, a cookbook store of unparalleled excellence. Waxman grew up on New York’s Lower East Side with a devout tradition of brisket. As Pierson explains, his approach is an amalgam of his mother’s and his mother-in-law’s recipes, and a tribute to both of them. Although the most unique element of this recipe came from his mother-in-law. And it’s known as interim slicing, in which the brisket is partially cooked, sliced, and then returned to the pot to continue to cook. “She had this brilliant notion of what would be good—by cutting the meat and putting it back in the pot, you’ve created more surface area for browning. Interim slicing lets every piece be exposed to heat and juices and allows the flavor to penetrate the entire brisket. I find that the typical brisket has a beautiful exterior but inside the meat is gray. By slicing the brisket halfway through the cooking time and reassembling, every piece essentially gets to be an outside piece. The slices are beautiful, the meat is much firmer and less likely to ether fall apart or shred.” We couldn’t agree more. Originally published December 7, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

Nach Waxman's Beef Brisket

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 4 H, 10 M
  • Serves 10 to 12
5/5 - 7 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Brisket Book cookbook

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Ingredients

  • One (6-pound) first-cut beef brisket, trimmed so that a thin layer of fat remains
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons mild olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 8 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and trimmed

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Be ready with a large ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot or other heavy pot that has a lid and is large enough to just barely (or snugly) fit the brisket.
  • 2. Lightly dust the brisket with flour, if desired. Sprinkle the brisket with pepper. Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the brisket to the pot and cook until crusty and browned areas appear on the surface here and there, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  • 3. Transfer the brisket to a platter. Increase the heat under the pot a little, add the onions, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, until the onions have softened and developed a rich brown color but aren’t actually caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Place the brisket on the onions and pour any juices that accumulated on the platter over the brisket.
  • 4. Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake. Sprinkle the brisket with salt and pepper and then add the garlic and carrot to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and let it cook, untouched, for 1 1/2 hours.
  • 5. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the brisket across the grain into approximately 1/8-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. If absolutely necessary, add 2 to 3 teaspoons water to the pot.
  • 6. Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Lower the heat to 325°F (163°C) and cook until the brisket is fork-tender, about 2 hours more. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure that the liquid hasn’t bubbled away. If it has, add a few more teaspoons of water—but no more. Also, each time you check, spoon some of the liquid on top of the roast so that it drips down between the slices so that the juices infuse the meat with flavor.
  • 7. It’s ready to serve right away, but in fact, it’s even better the second day. (You can let the brisket cool, cover it loosely with foil, and refrigerate it overnight to serve the next day. Skim any fat from the surface of the juices and gently reheat the brisket in the juices, in a covered pot or casserole, in an oven preheated to 325°F (163°C) until warmed through, about an hour.)

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This has to be one of the best brisket recipes that I have tested. Easy, right to the point, basic cooking methods and a normal cut of beef all combine for a really outstanding taste treat. The flavors are fully developed, and each one compliments the others. It is comfort food — and yes, “soul food” as well. It is the chicken soup for the beef lovers amongst us.

I had never made a brisket before, but always thought of it as a dry, tough cut of beef — this recipe proved me wrong.

I do not own a cast-iron pot with lid or any pot with a lid that can go in the oven, so I had to switch from a pot on the stove to a casserole dish that I covered tightly with aluminum foil for the oven, and it still worked great. The entire process was unlike any other meat I have fixed — from icing it with the tomato paste to cutting the meat before it was done cooking — but it worked great. I never had to add liquid, and the meat came out so moist and tender. I make pork barbecue a lot, and I made the sauce I use for that to have on the side. With or without the sauce, the meat was a hit.

We’ve tried various brisket recipes over the years. This was the best brisket I’ve had since my dad’s brisket, and that was too long ago. I’ve even tried making my dad’s recipe, but it’s never turned out the way it did when he made it.

I can’t single out one part of this recipe that makes it a winner. I think the secret is that everything just works together beautifully. The ingredient list is short. So much so that I wondered how much flavor the finished product could possibly have. Doesn’t 8 onions sound like a lot? But after tasting the succulent, rich, caramelized onions in the finished brisket, you may make a note on the recipe similar to the one I did. “Use even more onions next time.” I’m looking forward to the “next time” being sometime soon.

As for my fear about the short ingredient list, there was no need for it. The flavor is great. And don’t shy away from making a recipe that calls for a 6-pound brisket and advertises that it feeds 10 to 12 people. You can make it, like I did, for 2 people. We portioned the leftovers, vacuum-sealed them, and stashed the packages in the freezer. The brisket froze perfectly. How great it was to have such a wonderful meal on a night when there wasn’t much time to cook.

What an easy brisket to make, filled with flavor and tenderness. The brisket was so tender it fell apart once fully cooked, so I understand why you cut it prior to the end of its cooking time—this way, we were able to serve it as slices and not all shredded. We served it with plain mashed potatoes, and I would fully suggest that as the potatoes help soak up the pan juices. This is definitely a hearty meal, perfect for a weekend lunch—followed by a nice long nap. Thanks, Nach Waxman!

This recipe does a lot with very few ingredients. Hands-on cooking time is very minimal, and it’s amazing that it calls for no added liquid yet does not dry out. I would choose the size of brisket that best fits your pot — mine fit snug and that kept the brisket well submerged under the liquids created from cooking. My only suggested improvements would be the addition of herbs, such as thyme, and to puree the remaining juices, to give it more of a sauce-like consistency. Make sure to slice thinly the brisket; it really makes a noticeable difference. This holds up very well to reheating.

Comments

  1. This sounds delicious and I can taste each and every one of those exposed pieces.

    It’s incredible how many ways there are to make brisket. My family has been making a sweet and sour brisket for years and the method is so unconventional. Everyone that tries it asks for the recipe, but if people asked me for a recipe and I told them how it was made they’d turn their nose up.

    Brisket is either fantastic or lousy. I can’t wait to try this version. I just hope my family won’t be upset with me when I set it on the table.

  2. As the author of The Brisket Book, where Nach’s recipe is now appearing – I should say “starring” – I am thrilled that all of the discerning brisket makers on this blog are so happy with the results. It is simple and smart and incredibly delicious. I will pass on the kind words to Nach, who will blush!

      1. Hi Renee – you are so welcome! And Nach is (much like brisket) a warm and lovely guy, happy to share. I have found that the brisket community is wonderful about sharing recipes, advice, family secrets…

  3. Here is our family recipe for brisket. Do not be put off by the ingredients – it is fabulous.

    Brisket Recipe
    Saute 2 medium onions, chopped, and 5 or 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic until soft. Add about ½ cup ketchup, 1 cup water, salt and pepper and pour in bottom of covered roasting pan. Place brisket (3 to 4 lbs – first cut preferred as it’s less fatty than point cut) in pan and sprinkle 1 package Lipton’s onion soup mix on top, drizzle with a little more ketchup, cover tightly and bake at 350 ° for about 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven (don’t turn it off, you’re not done yet!) Scrape topping off the brisket into the gravy, remove brisket, let it cool a bit and slice (against the grain). Return sliced meat to roasting pan, making sure the gravy gets in between the slices and covers the meat – add a little more water if necessary. Cover pan and bake another 1 – 1 ½ hours, or until fork-tender. You can make this in advance and freeze in those disposable foil roasting pans. When you reheat it, the flavors blend even better than when freshly made. Is fabulous.

  4. Hi, I’m the brisket-obsessed author of The Brisket Book (Andrews McMeel). I love the Mona’s Brisket link from Food Network and it sounds like a winner—such a simple recipe. It is clearly a kissing cousin to the Levana Kirschenbaum heavenly Sweet & Sour Brisket recipe that is in my book—sure it will turn out great. And Happy Hanukah, indeed!

      1. Thank you, Renee! How wonderful to be included in your lively brisket discussions. There is, by the way, a panel discussion called “Let’s Brisket!” this coming Tuesday, Dec 18th at 6pm at The Center for Jewish History. 15 W 16th St. I’ll be there singing the praises (braises) of brisket—as will Julia Moskin of The New York Times, Dan Delaney of Brisket Lab, and other brisket mavens. Here’s the link: http://www.cjh.org/event/2137.

  5. This is the best of the best!!! Been making it this way for at least the last 30 years and would NEVER consider changing a thing!!!

  6. Made this tonight for a family gathering. What a triumph! And what a genius idea to slice the meat before it is falling apart tender. That made serving dinner infinitely easier. By the way, don’t skimp on the onions. They make the sauce, so be sure you have 8. At the end of the 3 hour cook time, I pulled the pan from the oven and put it on the stove on a low flame to keep warm while I made some green beans. I decided I might need a little more sauce for all five diners and the leftovers, so I added half-cup of beef stock to the pot, brought it to a boil and swished the contents around to mix all the flavors. Everyone loved it, there was plenty of sauce and there were leftovers for two couples. Next time you need to feed a crowd, make this—it’s delicious, easy and foolproof. Thanks for bringing us this recipe.

  7. Could you use a pesto sauce instead of tomato paste ? I have been afraid of brisket for decades !! Will try this one !!! Thanks.

    1. Well, Shirley, I never would have thought to try pesto. To be honest, I’m a little hesitant just because I don’t think the herb flavor will carry well during the long slow cooking. I fear the herbs will turn bitter in taste. But that said, there’s no reason to be afraid of brisket! Follow this recipe to the letter and I promise it will go well!

  8. I have this in the oven right now. My brisket was 3 1/2 lbs so I googled if the cooking time should be adjusted. Came across food52.com with the same recipe but the oven temp was 350 not 375. The answer to adjusting the cooking time is that it cooks the same amount of time – seems that brisket is one of those cuts of meat that can’t be overcooked on low and slow. Will let you know how it turns out for the first night of Hanukkah served with potato pancakes from this site.

    1. Marilyn, I made this with latkes (from this site) on Sunday–our way of being unofficially Jewish for Sunday Supper–and it was amazing. Truly wonderful. The temp in the book is 375°F, and I had no problem with it. Looking forward to your review and rating. And…Happy Hanukkah.

      1. I was really skeptical yesterday about the brisket, never having made it before. My husband grew up in a kosher home and hates kosher meat, in particular anything that he calls “cooked brown and cooked to death.” But when I came home from Christmas shopping today, after long lines and longer traffic jams, I made mashed potatoes and opened a jar of red cabbage and nuked it all up with some brisket.

        Absolute heaven on a cold winter day–the brisket fell apart in tender chunks and was very flavorful. It’s most definitely better on the second day.

        Also have to say your recipe for potato latkes was the best Ive ever made and husband thanked me for making them. I showed him the website and now he wants three other latke recipes for our holiday get together – even volunteered to peel the potatoes. Who’d a thought a nice Jewish boy would ask for goat cheese latkes.

        One note on the brisket: I cooked it longer than called for on the second 325 degree time just because I figured low and slow couldn’t really hurt. And it didn’t.

        Thanks again for a great website and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  9. I’ve made this recipe five times now, and every time I am amazed that such simple and few ingredients can create such an outstanding dish. After the full cooking cycle is complete, I carefully remove the slices into a porcelain baking dish and cover. Then with the remaining onions and juices, I add chicken and beef stock, some fresh thyme, a splash of Worcestershire and then bring to a simmer for 10 minutes before scraping everything into a strainer over another (smaller) saucepan. Make a brown roux in a separate pan, and add to the simmering strained juices to thicken. This makes a smashing gravy!

  10. This is the second time I’ve made this brisket recipe and I added more carrots (I like some veggies to go with all that meat). Brisket was on sale and I picked up a 6 1/2 lb one and it came out even better than the first time, which is saying a lot since the first time was pretty spectacular. Served with Lacy Potato Kugel from Genius Kitchen which calls for a lot of potato and onion grating but I substituted frozen hash browns and bought already chopped onion. Basically it comes out like a giant crispy crusted potato pancake about a half inch thick when I bake it in my giant cast iron skillet but still creamy inside- really delicious.

    David, you changed the name from “best brisket” to Nach Waxman’s brisket but it’s still the best brisket recipe ever. Such a simple recipe with amazing flavors and the meat is so moist, I’m salivating just writing this comment.

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