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Slow-Braised Brisket and Onions

TODAY Illustration / Jamie Geller
Cook Time:
4 hrs
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

There is nothing more comforting and familiar than the knowledge that a brisket is quietly simmering away. Brisket has some of the tastiest and richest meat and fat of any cut of beef. A 2nd cut or, even better yet, a whole brisket, will feed an army with tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat. The fat encapsulates the meat and protects it from drying out, while the long slow-cooking session gently unwinds the tight muscle fibers, yielding a gelatinized, luxurious roast.

Technique tip: I do not recommend a first cut brisket; it is just too lean, and cooking anything that lean for a long time yields a dry and flavorless dish.

Swap options: Top of the rib, pot roast, chuck roast.


  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 (7-pound) whole brisket or 2 (3½-pound) 2nd cut briskets
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 whole heads garlic, cut in half to expose the cloves
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bouquet garni (several thyme sprigs, parsley stems, bay leaves tied to a celery rib)



Preheat oven to 300 F or preheat slow cooker to low.


Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium-high heat. Brown onions until dark and very soft. Stir in tomato paste and continue cooking for a few minutes to sear tomato paste. Transfer onions to slow cooker, or if using a Dutch oven, push onions to the side.


Season brisket with salt and pepper and brown on both sides in the same pan. You may need to cut brisket in half to fit into a slow cooker.


Nestle brisket into pan with onions. Add garlic, broth, wine and bouquet garni.


Cover and braise for 3½ to 4 hours in a 300 F oven or 8 hours on slow cooker, or until a fork inserted comes out with no resistance.


Cool brisket before refrigerating for up to 2 days.


Scrape off fat; slice brisket. Squeeze garlic out of heads and add to pan juices. Serve with pan juices and onions.


Slice brisket if serving another day and store with pan juices in refrigerator. Reheat in a 300 F oven, covered, for 1 hour.