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Easy, Delicious, and Plentiful

October 20, 2010

If you’re at all familiar with brisket (and if you’re not–for shame!), chances are good you know it as spice rubbed, slow smoked Texas barbecue. Truly wonderful. But, if you haven’t had a braised, Jewish-style brisket, you’re missing out on a slice of fatty, tender goodness.

Brisket if a fairly traditional meal for Rosh Hashanah and Passover. And I take my inspiration for this dish from The New York Times Jewish Cookbook (edited by Linda Amster). If you’re at all interested in Jewish cooking, both traditional and modern, you really want to take a look at this book. It’s fabulous.

In any case, there’s a recipe in there for an easy sweet and sour brisket that you make in the oven. I’ve made it both in the oven (delicious) and on the grill (way better). But you have to pay attention to the brisket when you cook it either of those ways.  I much prefer to indulge in a flurry of activity, move on to something else, then come back to a perfect dinner hours later.

And you can, if you throw the brisket in the crockpot. And it is good. And easy. And plentiful. All reasons to rescue brisket from holiday-only status.

A couple of things to note: If you’re averse to fatty meats, move along. Brisket is fatty. That’s where all the flavor and tenderness come from. You can reduce the amount of fat by cutting off the fat cap before you put the brisket in the crock pot; you really don’t need that fat in this preparation.  You can also cook the brisket, slice it, stick it in the fridge, separate from the sauce. Store the sauce in a container in the fridge over night, and peel the fat layer off (it rises to the top) before reheating.  I can’t be bothered, but I wouldn’t stop you from being fatphobic.

The second thing to note: Briskets are biiiig. I’ve never found a first cut brisket (which is leaner) smaller than 6 or 7 lbs. That’s just too big, even for someone who loves leftovers. So, I go with a second cut brisket (a little fattier, but fat=flavor) that’s 3-4 lbs. It’s plenty of meat for dinner for two nights.

I served this for the first dinner with pierogies and steamed green beans, but it would be great with boiled potatoes, mashed, smashed, or potato pancakes (my original plan, before I got migrainey).  We’ll be using it for sandwiches with caramelized onions, horseradish, and melted cheddar for our second dinner.

Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Brisket

4 shallots, chopped fine (or use 1 medium onion
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup Coca-Cola (not Diet or Coke Zero. I used Mexican Coke, which has sugar instead of HFCS, but that would work)
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp honey
1/8 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp beef demi glace (optional)
1/2 tsp each of ground cloves, ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
S&P to taste
1 3-4 lb second-cut brisket, frozen or thawed (I used it frozen)


  1. Whisk together all the ingredients, except the brisket, in a mixing bowl. When the mustard is dissolved and everything is fully combined, taste it. Adjust to get a combo of sweet and sour that works for you (I sometimes have to add more vinegar).
  2. Put the brisket (frozen, thawed…makes no difference) in the crock pot and pour the sauce over it.
  3. Cook on low for 9-10 hours.  The timing doesn’t seem to differ much  if the brisket starts out frozen.
  4. Remove the brisket v-e-r-y carefully. It wants desperately to fall apart. Slice it and cover it with foil to keep warm.
  5. The sauce is very thin, more like a jus than a gravy. You can reduce it, if you like, but it’s fine as is. Skim as much fat off the top as you have patience for, and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Spoon some sauce over the meat when you serve it (and over the potatoes, if you know what good is), and start dreaming of leftovers.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michal permalink
    November 4, 2010 7:34 am

    Hi sounds great. I don’t have a crock pot but i really want to make this. Do you know how can I cook it in the oven ( temperature and how long).
    Thanks, Michal.

    • alfagee permalink*
      November 4, 2010 8:51 am

      I’d try 350 degrees for about 3 hours. The meat should be falling apart tender, when it’s done.

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