Roasted Beef Brisket

The brisket is possibly my favorite cut of beef.  It begins as a touch stringy piece of meat that one can barely get a knife through, and ends up fork tender and loaded with flavor.  It comes from the part of the cow’s belly that is closest to the ground and usually looks like a 2″ thick place mat…made out of meat.

The secret ingredient, Heinz Chili Sauce. Do you have other uses for this sauce? Please add a comment below.

The secret ingredient, Heinz Chili Sauce. Do you have other uses for this sauce? Please add a comment below.

There is a thick layer of fat on one side and this, while sliced off before serving, absolutely must remain attached for cooking!

The recipe I use is old school, reminiscent of Jewish style brisket.  The most important ingredient here is time.  (not thyme).  It will cook in the oven for a total of 6 hours; think Sunday dinner, and in the fall when it’s not hot out.

It also calls for a rather arcane ingredient, Heinz Chili Sauce.  Heinz Chili Sauce looks like a bottle of ketchup, and can usually be found near–but not in–the ketchup section.  The flavor is like a mild cocktail sauce and though called chili sauce, it has no heat of any kind.

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Another old-school ingredient, dry onion soup mix!

I am always surprised when I find this because I have never heard of anyone using this before…on anything!  Yet, my recipe calls for it and they always have it, so if you are aware of other uses for this sauce, please add a comment below!

There is another old-school store-bought ingredient and that is dry onion soup mix.  Now you may be thinking, why all the processed ingredients, but the technique is what matters and the texture and flavor of this meat will be the final word on the subject.Dry onion soup mix is another old-school ingredient that makes this brisket so good.

The Recipe

Ingredients

One large beef brisket

2 bottles Heinz Chili Sauce

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

1/2 bottle red wine

2-3 large onions

Preheat the oven to 325° and begin the recipe by peeling and slicing several large onions into onion rings, thick, like 1/2 an inch.  Scatter the rings across the floor of a roasting pan.

Lay the meat over a layer of thickly sliced rings of onion, and season well.

Lay the meat over a layer of thickly sliced rings of onion, and season well. For the sake of a pretty picture I put the fat side down but I flipped it over after the picture. Leave the fat on for cooking and cook it fat side up. It will baste the meat.

Lay the meat–fat side up–over the onion slices and season well with salt and pepper.  Since the meat is so thick and dense, it’s also a good idea to pull it out of the refrigerator a half hour before going into the oven.

Cover the meat with the red wine, then the Heinz Chili Sauce, and then the onion soup mix.

Cover the meat with the red wine, the Heinz Chili Sauce, and the dry onion soup mix.

Cover the meat with the red wine, the Heinz Chili Sauce, and the dry onion soup mix.

Cover the pan either with a lid or with foil and roast at 325° for 4 hours, basting every hour.  When you baste, be careful not to wash all of the sauce from the top of the meat.  Just ladle the juices carefully over the meat.

After 4 hours, pull the meat from the oven and uncover to let cool a bit.  Turn the oven down to 225°.

After the meat has cooled enough to handle, place it on a cutting board fat side up and holding a long slicing knife horizontally, slice off the layer of fat and discard.

Cut the brisket into quarter-inch thick slices across the grain.  The grain on a brisket is very apparent and easy to read.  You want to cut across that grain.  Picture a bundle of sticks and you want to cut them into sheets of twigs!

This is a very important step in the recipe because by the time the meat is finished it will be falling apart and much more difficult to slice.  At this point it is still slightly tough and easier to get clean slices.  If you get some shredded brisket with it, that’s ok, that’s good too!

Return these slices to the sauce in the pan, making sure they are submerged in liquid and mixed in with the onion slices.  Return the pan to the oven (now set at 225°) for 2 more hours, uncovered.

Again, this is an important step.  Leaving it uncovered allows the sauce to thicken into what will be almost as amazing as the meat!

Return the slices to the sauce and the pan to the oven for 2 more hours. Make sure the slices are submerged and mixed with the onion slices.

Return the slices to the sauce and the pan to the oven for 2 more hours. Make sure the slices are submerged and mixed with the onion slices.

Serve this with something that will absorb the sauce, such as fondant potatoes (recipe coming soon).  It will also want some color such as carrots or my recommendation, Roasted Kale.  Once this recipe is in your repertoire, you will be asked to make it for special occasions, holidays, and many chilly sunday dinners!

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  1. Hey, my mom always made what she called “Jewish potroast” because she got the recipe from a Jewish neighbor–they could always smell it cooking.

    This reminds me of it. You brown a bottom round roast (I’ll bet brisket would work). Then you put a lot of chopped onions, green peppers and celery on top and cover it with ketchup, no specific amount. Then you pour water over til maybe halfway full. You spoon the juice and veggies up and over the roast while it cooks in a dutch oven on top of the stove, the longer, the better. I’ll bet the tastes are similar. The gravy from this is to die for!

  2. Oooh – I think I need to make this for dinner today, Tony! I make my own shrimp cocktail sauce from Heinz Chili Sauce – just add horse radish and lemon. You can make it as spicy as you want!

  3. Tony,

    This is astonishingly like the Jewish brisket I make today, handed down from my grandmother, including the dry onion-mushroom soup packet.

    The recipe originally called for “Hot Ketchup” but it’s hard to find that anymore, so I switched to Chili Sauce.

    A couple differences – I leave the fat cap on; it’s an integral part of the flavor. It’s hard these days to find a fat cap that hasn’t been trimmed away to almost nothing, but I cook the brisket with the fat cap on top so the fat melts down thru the meat.

    Also, I cook it all the way through, then pour off the liquid and refrigerate them separately. The next day I slice it cold, skim the fat from the sauce and make sure the sauce gets in-between each slice. Then I warm it all together to serving temperature. I find the flavor develops better if made ahead. The challenge is slicing it thick enough for a dinner portion but thin enough for the must-have leftover: brisket sandwiches.

    My father had a sweet tooth and would add a can of Coke to the liquid before cooking, but that was always too sweet for me. I’m going to try your recipe. Soon!

    Best,
    Reid

    • Thanks Reid! The method you describe would indeed produce great results! I’d like to hear how they compare. If I made the house smell so good all day long and then said “not till tomorrow!” my family would kill me!

      • Tony,

        Thanks for asking. The beef jerky recipe is very easy. It’s a great snack for backpaking or camping, or if you’re on a low-carb diet.

        Use a cut of meat with as little fat as possible – in the past I’ve used bottom round or flank steak. Currently, I use fajita flap meat, just because it’s already sliced thin. Cut the meat into strips – they should be no more than 1/4 inch thick (if you’re using flank steak, cut it across the grain; it’s easier to bite off a piece when finished). Throw all the strips in a bowl of soy sauce. Lay out all the strips so they are touching each other on the slotted top over a broiler pan. At this point you can put virtually anything on it (see Variations, below). For the standard recipe I use, Lemon Pepper because it has salt, pepper and the tangly bits of lemon already in it. Shake it on generously – use more than you think you should.

        Throw it in a very slow oven – 180 degrees – for 8 to 10 hours to dry out the meat. When finished, remove from oven and let cool for several minutes, then roll in paper towels to absorb grease and excess moisture from cooking. Store in a zip lock bag.

        This is basically now salted, dried beef that is shelf-stable. It will keep in a cool, dry place unrefrigerated for a couple months, although it’s usually consumed before that.

        Variations:
        You can put almost any spice or flavoring on the meat prior to going in the oven. Some things (sauces, spreads) will be absorbed more readily into the meat than will powdered spices that will sit on top. From mild to spicy, I’ve made cinnamon and sugar for my kids, teriyaki, garlic & ginger, lemon pepper, curry, Ethiopian-flavor (using berbere or mitmeeta), and hot (using srirachi chili-garlic paste).

        Enjoy!

        • Thanks so much Reid! After Thanksgiving I am going to officially post this and will be sure to give you the credit!!

          What do you think of this for a blog name? “Solid Goldstein”!

  4. My mom used to use chili sauce to make chinese wings when I was a kid. Bottle of Chili sauce, bottle of low sodium soy sauce, cup of rum, garlic and ginger and wings. All in a pot and boil the life out of it. sause was great over rice.

  5. This is an outstanding recipe! Have done it twice now – experimenting with adding potato’s near the end. Thank you!

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  7. brisket is called bar-b-que in Texas and pot roast in Ohio! Your recipe is def Jewish brisket –and i love that the essential ingredient is time (not thyme) The best brisket is cooked 3 hours and then put in the fridge overnite, cook 3 more hours and then have for dinner.
    even better a day later, recooked again….

    • Love the validation, thanks! When you think about how careful we are not to overcook things like shrimp, fish, pasta, etc, it’s nice for a change to have something that improves the more you cook it!

  8. Great Recipe I will try this one out soon! I was just enjoying some Heinz Chili Sauce with my Kraft Dinner and I have to say I’m a HUGE fan of Heinz Chili Sauce and just out of boredom I typed something into google about it and I’m glad because this recipe sounds great! I learned about this sauce from my Dad as a kid and you’re right about not really hearing other people talk about it. I’d say its a hidden gem! It’s the best with grilled cheese and I also like it with a roast beef sandwich with mayo, and mixing it with Franks Original makes a good wing sauce. There ya go and Thanks 1

  9. I use Heinz chili sauce (1 cup) to make chicken cacciatore ( my grandma’s recipe ) with 3-3.5 lbs chicken cut up, 1 can sliced mushrooms, sliced carrots, medium onion minced, paprika, 2 tbsp white vinegar, black pepper, bay leaf, water to cover. Sprinkle paprika over chicken, onion at bottom of pan, combine everything else to make sauce, bake in roasting pan or Dutch oven until tender (about 1 hour).

  10. This is the way my family does it (we are Jewish). I have created a variation in which I dry rub the meat.

    My rub includes: brown sugar, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, chilli powder, salt, pepper, and dry mustard powder. I let that sit for 24 hours. Personally, I trim a fair bit of the fat off, because the briskets I buy usually come with way too much.

    After this, our recipes are pretty much identical. One variation I have attempted (with varying results is to cook the meat uncovered without the sauce for one hour to build a nice bark on the exterior. After an hour or so, I add the sauce and soup mix.