Nach Waxman’s Brisket
12 to 12 servings
This is slightly adapted from Nach Waxman’s famous brisket recipe. Nach is the owner of Kitchen Arts and Letters, one of the world’s great cookbook stores, in New York City. It’s said that the first place it appeared was in The Silver Palate New Basics book. (And subsequently in The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes.) This makes quite a bit of brisket. Mine was 6 pounds (2,75kg), which barely fit in the pan (and I used a very large pan), but it shrunk down considerably during cooking. My pot has a capacity of at least 8 quarts (7,5l) but you can also use a roasting pan that has a lid, or one that can be covered tightly with foil. This is one of those recipes that’s better the second…or even the third… day. Leftovers freeze well, too. I added a bit of fish sauce, which is undetectable in the finished brisket but adds a savory undernote to the sauce. You can leave it out if you wish. If you live in France, I’ve given tips on where to find similar cuts of beef at my post: Homemade corned beef. Note that brisket is best if you salt the beef the day before.
6 pounds (2,75kg) beef brisket
kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons flour
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
8 medium onions, peeled and sliced
freshly-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1. Trim excess fat from the brisket, but leave a thin layer of it intact. Season it all over with salt, rubbing it into the meat. Put the brisket in a shallow baking dish, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
2. Sprinkle the brisket with the flour. Heat the oil in a large, wide pot or roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop and brown the brisket on both sides, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes, total. Transfer the brisket back to the baking dish.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
4. Lower the heat to medium and add the sliced onions to the pot, season them with a bit of salt and black pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft, wilted, and golden brown. While cooking them, scrape up any stuck on bits of beef from the bottom of the pan, and stir them into the onions. If the pan is too dry and the onions are sticking to the bottom, add a tablespoon or so of water. The onions will take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook.
5. Add the brisket back to the pot, laying it over the onions, along with any juice that may have pooled in the dish it was resting in. Smear the tomato paste over the brisket, sprinkle with the fish sauce (if using), the garlic slices, and the diced carrots. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, lifting the lid once or twice during cooking, to spoon any juices over the brisket.
6. Remove the pot from the oven and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF (160C). Set the brisket on a cutting board and slice it in 1/2-inch (1,25) slices against the grain, or thinner if you like, then place the slices back in the pot so that they are snugly overlapping, keeping them in the same order as they were when you sliced them. Cover the pot and bake for another 2 hours, or until tender. You can serve the brisket right away, or let it cool and refrigerate it overnight. (It’s actually better served 2-3 days after it’s baked.) The beef slices can be rewarmed in the pot along with the sauce.

Serving: The brisket can be served with roasted or boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, or another root vegetable puree, with juices from the pot and the long-cooked onions. Roasted or boiled carrots are also a nice accompaniment.

Storage: The brisket will keep for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for at least two months.

Horseradish Sauce: To make horseradish sauce, mix 1 cup (65g) of freshly grated (fine) horseradish with 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar. (Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, if you wish.) Let it rest 30 minutes. Mix in 1 cups (240g) crème fraîche or sour cream and a pinch of salt. Taste, and add additional horseradish, vinegar, and salt if you wish. If it’s too thick, it can be thinned with milk. The sauce will thicken if refrigerated. You can also make a similar sauce with prepared horseradish, mixing about half the amount of jarred horseradish with crème fraîche or sour cream, to taste.