Family Meal: Jenn’s Braised Brisket
At our restaurants we are guided by listening and learning from the stories of our team, particularly the ways our families, upbringings, and lineage have shaped the way we consider, source, prepare, and share food.
Our series Family Meal spotlights recipes from different members of our team that have — in some way — informed the way they cook today. This month we’re hearing from Gjusta’s Chef Jenn Sills, whose braised brisket is less a “recipe” and more a mirroring of the food she makes at home, designed with simple preparation, with the ingredients she has on hand, designed to be tweaked throughout the seasons.
The elements of preparation come from various places in my upbringing, from family and in kitchens. My mother is my everything and her brisket is something I look forward to every year; it makes me nostalgic and fills my heart and stomach with ultimate warmth. This is my dog Lucas and I preparing the brisket with me at my parents’ house in 2018.”
“Her recipe consists of four ingredients: brisket, Lipton onion soup mix, water, and Wondra flour. My way of making it is reminiscent of the flavors of my mother’s, but made with intent to layer flavors and create a similar nostalgic experience for myself and those I feed it to. Love is the number one ingredient. (The above photo is my mom and I, circa 1987.)
5 pound brisket, with fat cap intact for flavor
1/2 cup Celery Leaf and Parsley Leaf, minced or pulsed in a food processor with kosher salt
Salt and Pepper to taste
I also use paprika, garlic powder, onion powder… anything you season meat with for extra flavor
2 pounds of various onion-type products (I like to mix it up with leeks, shallots, sweet onions, red onions, and cippolinis)
1 bulb fennel
6 cloves of garlic, more if you want a stronger presence
1 cup red wine
1 quart beef stock
1 or 2 bay leaf
Water as needed
Mince celery leaf and parsley into salt. (The amount of salt used is dependent upon the cook, but I salt my meat by weight cause I’m a food nerd. For braises I salt meat heavier as the liquid will capture much of the salt content. I use about 10 grams of salt per pound of brisket for this braise.)
Coat brisket with herb salt and pepper, add other seasoning or spices as you wish (this is your brisket world…we are all just living in it, hoping to get a bite of your brisket.)
After seasoning meat, let it temp on the counter slightly to take off any chill.
Cut onions and onion adjacent veg — I tend to cut each onion product to different thicknesses as to have them break down differently as they braise. Thinly slice the fennel, cut the carrots into chunks, and slice the garlic.
Heat up some neutral oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Carefully place seasoned brisket, fat side down, into the skillet (lay it away from you to avoid any oil splash). I like to move it around the pan to get the ultimate caramelization.
Once browned, flip meat and repeat ultimate caramelization processes.
Remove brisket and place in a roasting dish, Dutch oven, pyrex…whatever you have. In the same skillet used to brown the meat, add your onions, carrots and fennel. Sweat until the veg has softened, scraping up the bits of brisket from the bottom of the pan. Add garlic when onions are translucent and cook until it becomes fragrant.
Deglaze pan with red wine, reduce until completely evaporated. Add beef stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Add all of the ingredients to the brisket, including the bay leaf and water so the brisket is about 3/4 of the way submerged.
Cover the brisket with foil or an actual cover if you’re cooking in a Dutch oven. Cook at 325 F or until the brisket is easily pierced, about 3-4 hours. Once removed from the oven, let it rest in the braising liquid, covered for another hour. Remove from the braise and slice thinly against the grain.
I like to reduce the braising liquid by half and place the sliced brisket back in. I reheat it in the oven for about 30 minutes if I’m serving it as is. Pro Tip: Sometimes I let it braise until it is almost falling apart, then I blend the veg into the braising liquid and use it as a base for sweet and sour cabbage soup with brisket.
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