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Beef Brisket with Dried Fruit and Spices

Beef Brisket with Dried Fruit and Spices
sliced brisket on a platter

This beef brisket recipe shows up on my table for just about every Jewish holiday, especially Hanukkah and Passover. To me it is the perfect Jewish holiday food—it’s inspired by Ashkenazi traditions, but with a dose of heady Sephardic flavors thrown in.

ingredients for hanukkah brisket

Is brisket a distinctly Jewish food?

Growing up, I thought brisket was a strictly Jewish food, like matzoh or gefilte fish. I never heard of anyone eating it any time other than on Jewish holidays.

I was surprised to learn that the Irish, too, are famous for their brisket (uh, hello, corned beef AKA corned beef brisket?) Which is especially funny because I am half Irish.

making the dried fruit paste for hanukkah brisket in the cuisinart

What cut is beef brisket?

Beef brisket is the cut of meat that comes from the lower chest of the cow. It is a very large cut and is usually split into two pieces.

The first is the “flat cut,” which is thinner and a bit better for slicing. The second is the “deckle point,” which is thicker and more often used as a pot roast.

The flat cut is ideal for this recipe, but you can make it with the deckle point if that is what you have.

brisket browned and ready for braising

Why is brisket the chosen meat?

Brisket is inexpensive because it is one of the tougher cuts of beef. But if Jewish cooks know how to do anything, it’s how to take a less than premium ingredient and turn it into something delicious.

Long, moist cooking methods like braising or pressure cooking turn tough brisket into a tender, flavorful, and festive main dish for a holiday meal.

brisket in the pot after braising

Brisket is popular on every Jewish holiday. On Shabbat (which comes every Friday), it’s often stewed with vegetables and potatoes.

For Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year which comes in the Fall), it might be combined with root vegetables like sweet potatoes and dried summer fruits.

And of course, it is kosher for Passover.

This beef brisket recipe is especially festive and perfect for Hanukkah. The meat is braised with a mixture of dried fruits, aromatics, and spices that give it a North African twist. It’s super flavorful and goes extremely well with my famous Potato Latkes.

brisket sliced in pot in sauce

What are the ingredients of Beef Brisket with Dried Fruit and Spices?

The ingredient list may look a bit long at first glance, but don’t worry. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.

  • Brisket
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Dried apricots
  • Prunes
  • Carrots
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Fresh ginger
  • Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • Cilantro or parsley
slicing the brisket

What’s the secret to cooking beef brisket?

There are actually two secrets to making delicious beef brisket. The first is seasoning. This meat needs a lot of seasonings—salt, pepper, and other flavors—to make it shine.

The second is time. Brisket first needs to braise for hours. And then it needs to be chilled, sliced, and braised again in the sauce.

That’s right, this is a two-day recipe. You absolutely must season, sear, and braise it on day 1. Let it chill overnight in the refrigerator, in its own sauce. The next day, slice it, put the slices back in the sauce, and cook it again.

sliced brisket on serving platter with sauce

In fact, I have to warn you that the sauce will not taste good after you’ve braised it the first day. I know you won’t believe me and you will try it yourself (I do it every time I make it!).

But just know that when you taste it on day 1 and the sauce is bitter and thoroughly unpleasant, there is no need to panic. Trust me on this. The next day, you’ll slice it and reheat it in the sauce, and something magical will happen. I promise. The final result is divine.

It may seem like a lot of effort, but when you eat it, you’ll understand. The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender and permeated with the rich, sweet, earthy flavors of the sauce.

Can you cook it in the slow cooker or Instant Pot?

Yes, you can cook this beef brisket recipe in either the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

slice of brisket being lifted with a fork

For the slow cooker, follow the instructions up through adding the beef broth on the stovetop, then transfer everything, including the extra dried apricots and prunes, to the slow cooker.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for at least 8 hours. Cool, refrigerate overnight, and then slice the meat and reheat it in the sauce in the slow cooker on low for about 2 hours.

To cook it in the Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker, follow the instructions as written through the step of adding the beef stock, only do it in the pressure cooker rather than on the stovetop.

Sliced brisket on a platter with sauce, shot from overhead

For the braising step, cover the pot, turn the valve to the sealing position, and pressure cook for 90 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

The next day, slice the meat and return it to the pressure cooker with the sauce. Cover, turn the valve to the sealing position, and pressure cook for 20 minutes.

More Jewish holiday recipes you’ll love

pinterest pin for hanukkah brisket
Yield: Serves 12

Brisket with Apricots, Prunes, and North African Spices

brisket sliced in pot in sauce

Brisket is braised in a mixture of red wine, beef broth, dried fruit, and North African spices for a Mediterranean take on the traditional Jewish holiday dish. This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen in Bon Appetit.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Additional Time 12 hours
Total Time 14 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3- to 4-pound flat-cut beef brisket3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning the meat
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning the meat
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 ounces dried apricots (about 2/3 cup), divided
  • 4 ounces pitted prunes (about 2/3 cup), divided
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
  2. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large, oven-safe Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and cook until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 cup of the apricots dried apricots, 1/2 cup of the prunes, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and the remaining salt and pepper in a food processor and process to a chunky puree.
  6. Spread the puree on the meat, covering it as much as possible.
  7. When the onions and carrots are softened, add the wine to the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef broth.
  8. Quarter the remaining dried apricots and prunes and add them to the pot.
  9. Add the meat to the pot, cover, and bake in the oven, basting every 30 to 60 minutes, for about 2 1/2 hours.
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
  11. The next day, remove the meat from the sauce and slice it thinly. Return the slices to the sauce.
  12. Reheat the meat in the sauce in a 350ºF oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
  13. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 576Total Fat 34gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 149mgSodium 580mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 2gSugar 10gProtein 47g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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