In her cookbook Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating, author, chef and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons shares the story behind this brisket: “My mother, and my grandmother before her, passed along a few traditional Jewish recipes that remain holiday staples for me to this day—beef brisket among them. No matter how ubiquitous the dish may be, I crave it like clockwork at Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), and again for Hanukkah. Over the years, I have modified my mother’s sacred recipe (much to her dismay!), coating the beef with a garlic and horseradish crust and deglazing the pan with red wine to give the dish bright balance and a rich sauce. I hope that my daughter will one day make this brisket for her own family, adapting it as she sees fit.”
Not Your Mama’s Horseradish Brisket
- 1 first-cut brisket, about 5 1/2 lb. (2 1/4 kg)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, cut crosswise into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
- 2 parsnips, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) half moons
- 2 celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) dry red wine
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) low-sodium beef broth, heated to a simmer
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) pieces
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) drained prepared horseradish
1. Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. Season the brisket all over with 1 Tbs. salt and 2 tsp. pepper. In a large roasting pan set over 2 burners set to medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the brisket and sear, turning as needed, until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a rimmed baking sheet, fat side up.
3. Pour off all but 2 Tbs. fat from the roasting pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and half of the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnips and celery and season with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the vegetables are browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate; set aside.
4. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for 1 minute. Return the brisket to the pan, fat side up. Add the broth and bay leaves and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pan tightly with a large piece of extra-wide (18-inch/45-cm) heavy-duty aluminum foil, sealing the edges; transfer to the oven and braise for 2 hours.
5. Remove the pan from the oven, then carefully loosen and remove the foil. Scatter the reserved vegetables and the potatoes around the brisket. Reseal the pan tightly with the foil, return to the oven and braise until the brisket is very tender, about 1 hour more. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mustard, 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) of the horseradish and the remaining garlic.
6. Carefully loosen and remove the foil and spread the horseradish mixture over the top of the brisket. Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the top is browned, about 20 minutes.
7. Transfer the brisket to a carving board and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a serving platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
8. Pour the juices from the pan into a fat separator and let stand until the fat rises to the surface. Pour the juices into a small saucepan; discard the fat. (If you don’t have a fat separator, pour the liquid into a bowl and let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight or freeze until the fat solidifies. Skim off and discard the fat.)
9. Gently warm the juices over low heat. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) horseradish, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
10. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain and transfer to the platter with the vegetables. Spoon a little of the warm pan juices over the brisket and pass the remaining juices at the table. Serves 8.
NOTE: This recipe can be made ahead through to when the brisket is braised and the top is browned. Cool in the pan juices, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Refrigerate the vegetables in a separate container. Before serving, skim the fat from the surface of the pan juices. Slice the brisket while it’s cold, then arrange in a roasting pan or baking dish with the vegetables and pan juices; cover the pan tightly with foil, sealing the edges. Heat in a 350°F (180°C) oven until the vegetables and meat are warmed through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and meat to a platter and season the juices with the horseradish and salt and pepper directly in the pan.
Recipe adapted from Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating, by Gail Simmons (Grand Central Life & Style, 2017)