December 22nd, 2008

Hanukkah Brisket

Hanukkah began at sundown yesterday and it’s in full swing right now.

And one of the meals often prepared at this beautiful holiday time is yummy, scrumptious, delectable brisket.


Giora Shimoni at tells us the story of the Hanukkah brisket . . .

I don’t like to stereotype, but I think it is safe to say that a high percentage of Jews … love brisket.

Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest. The term brisket usually refers to beef or veal.

While some – especially Texans – like to barbecue their briskets, in traditional Jewish cooking the brisket is braised as a pot roast.

How to Prepare Great Jewish Brisket

Buy good brisket meat (meat #3 in Israel). The brisket should have good marbling between white fat and dark colored meat. The fat should be distributed throughout the meat rather than just in one area.

Jewish brisket should be slow cooked. Whether the recipe is for a savory or sweet sauce, Jewish briskets taste best when slow cooked. In addition, there is less shrinkage of the meat at lower cooking temperatures.

Thirdly, it is very important to slice the brisket correctly. Brisket must be sliced thinly and sliced against the grain. If brisket is not sliced against the grain, it will be tough rather than tender.

Why Prepare Jewish Brisket for the Holidays

Jewish brisket is the perfect holiday entree for many reasons.

Brisket is best when prepared in advance. I cook my brisket a day before the holiday, slice it, and then store it in the refrigerator. Then just before serving, I heat the brisket. Brisket made in advance and allowed to sit tastes better than freshly made brisket. In addition, making the brisket in advance means less last-minute holiday prep work and less mess to clean up. My mother makes her holiday brisket a week in advance, and then stores it in the freezer until the holiday.

In addition, since Jewish brisket is generally cooked in a tightly covered roasting pan, it turns out tender and juicy. So, the meat does not dry out even when it is reheated on a hot plate on the second day of a Jewish holiday.

Lastly, when sliced thinly and served on a platter with gravy, brisket makes a festive entree. And brisket cooked in a sweet sauce is particularly fitting for the Jewish New Year.

Here’s a great recipe whether it’s for Hanukkah, another Jewish holiday — or for anyone any time of year!

Brisket in Wine Sauce

Prep Time: 9 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours


  • 1 (2 1/2 -pound) beef brisket, thick-cut
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups water


1. Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit (165° Celsius).
2. Rinse brisket. Place in roasting pan.
3. Rub paprika, basil, salt and pepper into meat.
4. Scatter onions and garlic over meat.
5. In a medium bowl, mix ketchup, wine and water. Pour over brisket.
6. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting so that the foil does not touch the meat.
7. Bake at 325° Fahrenheit (165° Celsius) for 3 hours, or until a digital instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the brisket reads 190° for well done.

YIELD: 8 servings

SOURCE: Quick and Kosher: Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing, by Jamie Geller. Recipe reprinted with permission from Feldheim Publishers.

Photo courtesy of

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