What do you call a beef brisket roasted for 4 hours in it’s own juices and veggies until melt-in-your-mouth tender? I call it comfort food! That dish that’s prepared repeatedly for Sunday dinners and holidays, and much beloved by all and sundry? Comfort food! What evokes the flavors and aromas that are indelibly etched into your memories reminiscent of those feelings of safety, love, family and tradition….comfort food!
We all have our own set of powerful comfort foods, the thought of which causes us to salivate…the taste of which releases memories of joyful events…the smell of which brings great anticipation.
For my family, Grandma Ruth’s roast beef brisket is just such a dish. To give you an example of how firmly embedded in our memories our favorite comfort foods can be…two years ago my family all gathered for Thanksgiving week up in Vermont, and my former husband prepared a roast beef brisket for one of the suppers. As soon as everyone tasted his brisket, which looked and smelled like Grandma’s, they all reacted horrified and asked ‘what did you do to this brisket’? I will give him credit for attempting to try a new recipe for what had long been one of our family’s comfort foods…however, his addition of one simple spice was so pronounced that everyone reacted negatively. In all honesty, the beef brisket didn’t taste badly, just different. This particular event is now an amusing anecdote in our family…but when he says he’s going to make a beef brisket…it instantly evokes the same laughing response from everyone….’don’t change the recipe’!!!!
Here is Grandma Ruth’s Original Roast Beef Brisket recipe…you may use it as a take-off point and doctor it to your own particular tastes…but if so, don’t bother serving it to my family!!!! hahahaha
Grandma Ruth’s Original Roast Beef Brisket
- 4-5 lb flat cut beef brisket, trimmed of 80% excess fat (leave some for flavor)
- salt & ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce (lighter than chinese soy)
- 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
- 1 very large onion, cut into chunks
- 3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
- 3 stalks of celery
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 cup beef broth or stock or water
Place the cut veggies in the bottom of a large roasting pan with high sides, preferably one with a cover. Season the roast top and bottom with salt & pepper. Place the roast in the pan, over the veggies with the fat cap on top. Smear the top with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup and pour broth into the bottom of the pan.
Cover tightly. If using aluminum foil, place a piece of parchment over the roast first before sealing with foil, to prevent the acidity of the meat from leaching the aluminum from the foil into your roast/drippings.
Roast in a 350 degree preheated oven for 4 hours. When tender, let sit in juices overnight. If you are roasting this in the evening, simply turn off the oven after 4 hours and go to bed while it cools overnight. I prefer to roast it early in the afternoon, let it cool at room temperature, remove the roast, strain out the soggy veggies from the pan juices, then place the roast back into the pan and pour the strained juices over the brisket, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, remove the hardened fat from the top of the roast/broth. Remove the cold roast and slice across the grain of the meat, very thinly. It’ll be easier to slice when cold. Arrange the roast slices in a large casserole dish, in the shape of the roast.
If you haven’t already done this step the previous day, briefly heat the remaining veggies/juices and strain the soggy veggies out and discard. Correct the seasonings of the juices. The pan juices (now de-fatted and de-veggied) can be poured over the beef slices similar to an au jus. Cover and refrigerate until dinner time. You can also freeze it at this point. Simply thaw overnight before proceeding.
Just a word here about covering your roast to either refrigerate or warm up or freeze…if you don’t have a covered roasting pan and need to use aluminum foil, please first cover the meat with a piece of parchment paper, then seal with the foil. Acidic dishes like this roast, lasagnas, most other casseroles, will eat away at the foil at extreme temperatures, leaching the toxic aluminum ions into your foods. Since aluminum ions have been recognized as contributing to the condition known as Alzheimer’s, you want to guard against this. I know that some restaurants use plastic wrap to first cover their pans, then aluminum foil for long roasting items…however, I’m not convinced that I’d prefer to substitute plasticizer chemicals for aluminum ions in my foods.
Heat about 30 minutes in a 350 oven to warm and serve. The beef will be so tender you won’t need a knife to cut it, just a fork will do. Aromatic, delicious and comforting!!!
Leftovers make an excellent hot beef open-face sandwich! Or freeze portions for future dinners.