Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce

Plus a roundup of some of the best brisket recipes you'll find online.
Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce


Serves 10-12

45 min

8 hrs

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First or second, brisket is one tough cut. But it is to Rosh Hashanah – almost – what latkes are to Hanukkah.

So how do you cook it so that everyone loves it? This question can cause a Talmudic-style debate, so I asked some of my fellow kosher bloggers to give me the emmis, the real truth, on how they do it.

There were some modest words from Shoshana Ohriner on her Paleo Kosher Kitchen site. She says she hesitates “to call any recipe the ‘World’s Best,’” but – everyone who has eaten her family recipe agrees it is the best. In fact, it is the one dish that kept her from becoming a vegetarian. Her tip? Keep it savory, first, by marinating the meat for several hours to boost the beefy taste, then load the roasting pan with onions, which caramelize slowly as the meat cooks and pack the dish with flavor.

At the Strauss household, though, they like their brisket with a tart taste. For years, Melinda Strauss of Kitchen Tested made her Mom’s recipe, with bold ingredients such as sauerkraut and canned tomatoes. But Melinda’s creative urges took her farther afield and these days she adds freeze dried cranberries to her roast. In addition, her family prefers the brisket with a crusty brown surface, but instead of searing the meat before cooking it, Melinda has an easier way – oven roast it at a high temperature for a short time first.

Some say it’s the cut of meat that makes the difference. Chanie Apfelbaum over at Busy In Brooklyn insists that “fattier meat will always yield a tastier product.” She likes second-cut brisket because of its higher fat content. Chanie gives lots of tips for how to make the most of tough cuts like brisket in her handy-dandy Guide to Kosher Meat: Cuts and Cooking Methods.

Other brisket mavens focus on the seasoning and browning. Jamie Geller, founder of the Kosher Media Network, makes a Garlic-Honey Brisket, and now has a video that shows how she makes a brisket.

Cookbook author Norene Gilletz, who blogs at Gourmania, is a brisket maven. Her special touch includes adding cola to the braising fluids because it helps make the meat velvety tender. She changes up the seasonings from time to time and prefers second cut, but for the Gilletz family it’s the what-goes-with-it that glorifies the already fabulous meat. Her family “insists” on kasha and bowties, the perfect foil for that lush brisket gravy.

It’s the way it’s served that makes brisket a special meal for Elizabeth Kurtz of Gourmet Kosher Cooking and her family. Her recipe starts out as a sweet-and-spicy roast, the meat laden with brown sugar, chile powder and cayenne pepper. But when it’s tender, Elizabeth transforms this old fashioned favorite into a more modern Pulled Brisket and serves the meat and lush sauce on a bun or over mashed potatoes or inside lettuce cups.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the cooking method that counts most. My family wants this boneless hunk of meat to be falling-off-the-bone tender, but they also like a crispy, burnt-end BBQ crust. So here’s my take: I begin with a whole brisket, first plus second cut, (the method works with smaller cuts), place it in a large roasting pan, add seasonings and smother it with sliced Vidalias (common yellow onions are fine). I seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil, place it in the oven and turn the heat to 225 degrees (no preheating).

I go to bed and let the meat cook magically while I’m sleeping.

Oh, how I love that brisket alarm clock in the morning!

You can do this during the day of course, timing the meat accordingly if you use a smaller piece.

Although I don’t add any liquid to the pan – no juice, no beer, no wine – the onions and natural meat juices make plenty of fluids. When the dish is done, I separate the meat (removing excess fat that hasn’t melted), onions and juices. When the juices are cold, I discard the firm fat that rises to the top.

I’ve occasionally served the brisket in the traditional way: Slice the meat, place it in an oven-proof serving dish, cover it with the onions and defatted juices and reheat. It also freezes well, separated into family-size portions in air-tight plastic containers.

But most of the time I use the onions and gravy for something else – mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles, for example. I slather the cooked meat with homemade barbecue sauce and either roast, grill or broil it until it’s hot and the surface is black and crusty and tasting of rich, flavorful beef and sticky, tangy sauce with just a hint of spice (you can omit the cayenne if you wish).

Does my family love every bite and morsel? Yep!

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein.

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For the brisket:

One whole brisket (8-10 pounds) or smaller cut*

Salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to taste

2 large Vidalia onions (or 3 large yellow onions)

Mango Barbecue Sauce

For the mango barbecue sauce:

1 large ripe mango

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 cup bottled chili sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup molasses (or honey)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. To make the brisket: Place the meat in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika if desired. Scatter the onions on top. Cover the pan tightly. Place the pan in the oven, turn the heat to 225 degrees and bake for 7-8 hours or until the meat is soft and tender. (For smaller cuts, adjust the time accordingly: a 5-6 pound brisket will take about 6 hours; 4 pounder, about 4 hours – pierce the meat with the tines of a fork to check for tenderness). Remove the meat, let cool, trim excess fat and refrigerate. Strain the onions and refrigerate. Refrigerate the pan juices. When the pan juices are cold, skim the fat that has come to the top. Use the defatted pan juices and onions for other purposes (gravy for mashed potatoes, cooked egg noodles, etc.).
  2. To prepare the sauce, about 45 minutes before serving, remove the meat from the refrigerator and place it in a large roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slather some of the barbecue sauce over the meat and roast for about 15-20 minutes, brushing the meat occasionally with more of the sauce (you will probably use a little more than half the amount of sauce). Slice and serve. You can also broil the brisket or reheat on a preheated outdoor grill.
  3. To make the sauce, peel the mango and puree the flesh in a food processor. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the mango puree, chili sauce, orange juice, molasses, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until slightly thickened. Let cool.
  • Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce
    Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce
  • Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce
    Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce
  • Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce
    Braised Brisket with Mango Barbecue Sauce