Grandma style may be a better bet if you live in the Northeast or Midwest. A home-style barrel smoker has to work twice as hard in frigid temperatures, climate change notwithstanding. Your Texas-style brisket might take much longer than 12 hours to reach perfection. I know this from bitter experience.
But whichever style you choose, it’s impossible to go wrong, insists Joan Nathan: “Nobody doesn’t love brisket.”
1 4-5 pound brisket
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 Spanish or yellow onion, sliced
1 cup red wine
1 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup chipotle ketchup (or chili sauce or regular ketchup)
1 can of crushed tomatoes (10 or 15 ounces)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or dried)
1 sprig fresh thyme (or dried)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
6-8 carrots, peeled and sliced
6-8 small potatoes, skins on
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle the brisket with salt and pepper and heat the oil. Put the garlic in the hot oil for a few seconds before adding the brisket. Sear for two minutes a side.
2. Spread onions in the bottom of a large casserole and place the brisket (with the garlic, if you like, on top) fat side up. Cover with crushed tomato, chili sauce, chipotle ketchup (if using), wine, celery, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary.
3. Cover and bake for three hours, basting occasionally. Add parsley, carrots and potatoes, then immerse in the gravy. Cook uncovered 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
4. Take the casserole out of the oven and put a fork in the brisket. If it feels tender and the fork comes out of the meat with a light pull, it is “fork tender,” as Joan Nathan puts it.
5. Brisket is ready to serve. It is best when you take out most of the gravy, slice the meat, put the slices back in the casserole and cover it all with the gravy.
Recipe by Dan Freedman, adapted from grandmother Rose B. Kohl (1899-1998).