This easy-as-pie, thoroughly midcentury rendition of brisket is also my family's favorite, despite my occasional foray into more sophisticated versions. It's total old-school simplicity, just ketchup and onion soup mix, you won't believe how tender and flavorful it turns out. The trick? Give yourself plenty of time and cook it low and slow.Yum
I didn't grow up eating brisket; I'm not sure why, it's just not a cut of meat my mom would get. When I set out to make my first brisket, I looked up many recipes, most of which were written for very large briskets, like 5 lbs / 2.5 kg. I've never seen a kosher brisket that large, probably because it would cost a million dollars. Most kosher briskets are in the 2-3 lbs / 1-1.5 kg range, if not smaller. The size of the brisket dictates how long you cook it, so here we're assuming one in the vicinity of 2.5 lb / 1,250 g. If yours is smaller, reduce the cook time by half an hour to 45 minutes.
So this ketchup and onion soup version (or variations of it) kept popping up on that initial search, and I decided that legions of grandmas couldn't be wrong. Well, everyone liked it so much, I didn't make another kind for a long time, and it's still my most-requested version. A fine reminder to stop overcomplicating everything (ahem), go with the flow, and make the world's easiest, meltingly soft brisket.
Prepping the brisket
Literally just whisk together ketchup and onion soup mix to make the old-school sauce. I bet Heinz's cocktail sauce would make a fine and also very midcentury substitution for the ketchup here, but I've never tried it because we like the ketchup version so much. If you're using the kind of onion soup mix that comes in pouches, you can just put in one pouch. If you're using the kind that comes in a container (common in Israel and found in kosher markets), scoop out the amount specified.
While I make most of my briskets in my beloved Dutch oven, this one works best in a large baker; I use a 9"x13" / 23x33 cm ceramic baking dish. Grease it with cooking spray for easier cleanup, then plunk the brisket down inside and pour the ketchup sauce over it. Tuck aluminum foil all around the baking pan and you're ready to cook the brisket low and slow.
Cooking the brisket
I've tried out all sorts of iterations for cooking the brisket and settled on this one: cook it covered at 350F / 180C for half an hour, then lower the heat to 300F / 150C and keep cooking it, covered, for another 2 hours. In the last half hour, remove the aluminum foil covered and let it cook uncovered. That's it. Three hours to brisket perfection.
Looking for sides to serve with your old-school brisket?
- Classic, Crispy Potato Kugel - the old-school classic accompaniment.
- Honeyed Braised Carrots with Fresh Dill - not out of place in midcentury, with a sparkle of the fresh.
- Balsamic Honey Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Paprika - try 'em, they're absolutely delicious!
Old-School Brisket (meat)
- 2-3 lbs brisket
- 1 ½ cups ketchup
- 1 Tbs onion soup mix
- ½ cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.
- In a large mixing cup or small bowl, combine the ketchup with onion soup mix. Add ½ cup of water, thinning it slightly.
- Place the brisket in a large, greased baking pan and pour the sauce over it. cover tightly with aluminum foil. (This can be done ahead and the brisket left marinating up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.)
- Cook for 30 minutes at 350, then, without uncovering the brisket, lower the heat to 300F / 150C and continue cooking for 2 hours more.
- Uncover the brisket and continue cooking for 30 minutes more. The finished brisket should be lightly crusted and meltingly tender.