Cooking

Andrew Zimmern's Tips for the Perfect Brisket

Take on this Jewish classic with a few simple steps
How to Make the Perfect Brisket
Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Zimmern 

Nothing signifies the start of Rosh Hashanah quite like the smell of juicy brisket cooking in the oven, yet nothing is quite as daunting as taking on your first roast.

To tackle the challenge, we turn to the expert himself: James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Zimmern. Though Zimmern has a been a chef for more than a decade, he still sticks to his grandmother's classic brisket recipe (with a few minor additions).

"I learned to cook at my grandmother's apron strings, and that has defined me as a culinarian," Zimmern says. "You can't separate me from her kitchen on West End Avenue in the 60s."

Brisket was one of the first dishes Zimmern helped his grandmother make, and he's been making it her way ever since. Here are some of the best tips Zimmern has for beginners and experts alike.

 Get an all-natural whole brisket that is fresh from a reputable butcher.

 Make sure your brisket is trimmed but has a complete fat cap on top. "I don't like to see a lot of red when I'm looking down at the top of my raw brisket," Zimmern says.

Season and brown the brisket well, "but don't scorch the fat or any of the seasonings when you brown it before the braising process, or else all you'll taste is the scorching of those spices."

 Be patient. "When a fork turns in it, it's done," Zimmern advises.

 Zimmern also says to let the brisket rest in its liquid: "This is crucial, because it lets all the fat settle back into the muscle itself."

Though cooking the perfect brisket is undoubtedly a feat to celebrate, Zimmern notes that the most important part of any holiday is the people. "Fill your house with people you love and who love you, and everything else will work out—it doesn't matter whether you open up a bag of dollar rolls or if you have 15 sides around the brisket."

And don't worry if you have leftover brisket (which you will); Zimmern has plenty of recipes to help you use up all that juicy meat you labored over, like brisket breakfast hash, chili with brisket, brisket nachos and a double whammy: brisket-topped potato latkes.

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