It’s your turn to host family dinner, which means you’ve got to give the house an extra special cleaning AND cook for a crowd. To help take the stress out of getting ready, we’ve come up with a delicious slow cooker beef brisket recipe that can be made a day ahead.
Why is brisket such a traditional favorite? It’s all about flavor and versatility. Because it’s a tough cut of meat (it comes from the lower chest and has lots of connective tissue) it needs to be tenderized by marinating or braising, which lends itself to a variety of gravies and sauces.
Brisket must be cooked more slowly than more expensive cuts of meat but that’s really a good thing! Just place it a pan or slow cooker, fatty side up. Resist the urge to trim off the fat—it actually insulates the meat from drying out. Let the juices run down into the meat all day while you clean the house!
If you’re a planner and have made this main dish a day ahead, just wrap the meat and vegetables tightly in foil and store the juice in a separate container. Place them in the fridge overnight then remove any excess fat from the meat and any fat that has solidified on top of the broth. Slice the meat against the grain, place in a baking dish, pour the broth over it and reheat. Purée the veggies into the broth and your dish will be fall-off-the-fork ready as if you made it that day!
Slow Cooker Beef Brisket Recipe
- 4 - 5 lb beef brisket
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 large celery stalk, sliced
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 14 1/2 oz can beef stock
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp beef bouillon
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onions, carrots and celery in oil, stirring occasionally until light brown in color. This will take about 10−15 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, rinse the brisket under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, then place it in a slow cooker, fatty side up. Turn the cooker on the low setting.
- Once the onion has started to turn light brown, add the garlic cloves and cook for 3 additional minutes.
- Stir in all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil for 2−3 minutes. Pour the onion mixture over the top of the brisket, cover with a lid and allow it to cook on low for 8−10 hours.
- Once cooked, carefully remove the brisket and transfer to a cutting board. The meat should literally fall apart, so be careful! Scrape off any excess fat from the top of the brisket. Once the fat has been removed it will be easy to see that the fibers of the meat run in one direction. Cut the brisket perpendicular to the direction of the fibers, or ‘against the grain’ into ¼"-½" slices. It is very important that you cut the meat in the correct way, or you will end up with stringy meat instead of fall-apart, fork tender slices of meat.
- Remove as much fat as possible from the top of the cooking liquid by using a ladle to skim the top—you can also use a defatting cup if you have one.
- Remove the bay leaves and transfer the cooking liquid and vegetables to a blender. Do not fill the blender more than ⅓ of the way full—hot liquids expand greatly when puréed and will explode from the top of the lid if you have added too much! (Take our word for it—you’ll need to work in batches, unless you like scrubbing the ceiling!)
- Once you have pureed the gravy, taste it for seasoning. If you find it to be salty, you can dilute it with a bit of water.
- Carefully place the sliced meat on a serving dish. Pour the gravy over the meat or serve it on the side. Enjoy!
Always cut brisket against the grain or you’ll end up with stringy, chewy meat!