Brisket and Tsimmis

As Anthony Bourdain said “Only Texans and Jews understand brisket.”

If you want something smoky and savory,head to Texas  Get a side of mac and cheese and really enjoy some down home BBQ. However, if you want something a little saucier, a little softer, and a little sweeter, look to your Jewish friends. Think fall-apart-in-your-mouth beef swimming in a sweet and savory sauce with tender root vegetables.  We don’t tamper with this recipe and we don’t ignore it.

We make it every Hanukkah and eat it with gusto.

My guess is, once you have this incredibly simple recipe, you will, too.

Brisket and Tsimmis


7 lbs. brisket (with the point and fat cap)

6 onions, sliced into rings

1 lb. carrots, cleaned and sliced into large chunks

1 lb. parsnips, cleaned and sliced into large chunks

1 large can tomato sauce

1 can beer

2 cups prune juice

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup brown sugar

1. Cut the beef into pieces, if necessary, then place it fat side down in a BURNING HOT stockpot. You will hear it sizzle and sear. Let it rest for about 2 minutes, or until it becomes easily unstuck…

then sear it on the other side. Repeat with other pieces.

The meat is seared to lock in the juices for the long braise ahead.

2. After you are done browning the meat, you turn the oven to 350F, and…

add the carrots, onions, and turnips to the pot.

3. Now, mix all of the other ingredients together in a bowl, and…

add the sauce to the pot. Give it a good stir to try to get the sauce down around that beef.

4. Turn off the stove and cover the pot with tinfoil, crimping down the edges tightly  You want absolutely no steam to escape here. The whole point is that this is covered for hours and hours, braising and breaking down fat and connective tissues until the beef is soft enough to cut with a spoon. You can always cover the pot with a lid after the foil, but don’t skip the foil.

5. Now, set it in the oven for a good 6 – 8 hours. It is done when the meat is truly, totally tender.

Try not to eat it straight out of the pot with a serving spoon. I, of course, fail at this every year. The carrots are tender, the prunes are fat and juicy…

and the beef is bovine perfection. Skim the fat off the top and serve it now, or…

6. Separate the beef from the sauce and refrigerate both over night. When it comes time to serve it, simply remove the fat off the top of the Tupperware.

It should have risen to the top in one orange clump, which you can simply pick off. So much easier than separating it while it is hot!

Now you are left with just the tsimis.

7. Now, slice the fat cap off the brisket and toss it,

slice the brisket, and put it in the tsimis. Reheat the whole thing on the stove, in the oven, or even in the microwave until it is hot, and…

8. Serve.

This is beef stew gone sweet. It is sweet potato pie gone savory. It is slightly malty form the beer and very earthy from the parsnips and sweet carrots. The onions simply swoon in submission to the tomatoey, beefy sauce, and the prunes pick up the irony, hearty taste of the beef. The beef itself is really soft and mild without being mushy or cottony – that’s what sealing that thick fat cap does. It protects the meat from losing flavor or texture. We eat this for breakfast lunch, and dinner the week after we make it – it actually gets better as it sits.

Not that something this delicious sits around for long.


  1. Hi,

    I’m using your recipe this year for Thanksgivukkah. Can you confirm that I’ve read this right – you turn the stove off as soon as the pot goes in? Will it really cook enough with just the ambient heat wanning over time? I would think that you’d at least bring it to a boil first? Or start at 350 and lower the temp after an hour or two?

    Thanks for any advice…

    • Hi Nina,
      So sorry I missed this!

      Yes, you turn off the stove, but keep the oven on! That’s right 🙂