Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Recipe - Jerked Up Brisket

This is one of my attempts to cook something that is familiar and comforting to both my husband and myself. You'll need to be around the house for at least 4 hours for this one, so it's something I do on a Sunday usually.

Why I know about cooking Jewish-style brisket

Both my parents' families have been living in the Toronto area for at least 4 generations. My father was a butcher, and so was my grandfather. My grandfather died when I was 2 years old, so I didn't know him. I'm told he was very interested in what other cultures ate, that he loved to cook, and that he was a fantastic cook. My mom tells me that my grandfather cooked massive spreads of food every Sunday, and there was a standing invitation to family and friends to eat at their house. As I understand it, at the time my dad was growing up in Toronto, his neighbours were Jewish and Italian, and my grandfather's interest in their cooking influenced his own. Jewish and Italian foods are two of my dad's favourites, and this is why I am familiar with the cooking of both these cultures.

When I first started living with my husband, I spent some time with his mom talking about cooking and she gave me some Jamaican recipes. These days she gives me the magazine Jamaican Eats whenever there is a new issue. Over time, I've developed a pretty good understanding of Jamaican cooking, and it has influenced everything I cook.

OK! Let's get going here!

Jerked Up Brisket

You will need:

1 6lb flat cut brisket
3 T of Walker's Woods Jerk Seasoning mixed with 2 T olive oil
10 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small onions, coarsely chopped
2 T butter
2 cups of broth*
seasoning salt and pepper

Special equipment: a large roasting pan with a lid, or if you have no lid, tin foil will do it. You will also need a large skillet, and I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet.


Soak the roast in cold water with a few dashes of vinegar in the fridge for as long as you please. Soaking meat before cooking it is something I've picked up from my Jamaican family. My own family washes meat well, but I have to say I prefer soaking meat, and I can tell when I am eating meat that has not been soaked. Afterward, rinse and dry the brisket. Rub the surface with one clove of garlic, then slather it with jerk seasoning. Put the meat in a pan, cover it with foil, and stash it in the fridge over night.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in the skillet and get the skillet super hot.
  3. Sear the brisket until well-browned on all sides. It might get smokey in the house, so open a window first.
  4. Rest the brisket on a plate.
  5. Add the onions to the pan and saute until brown.
  6. Add 1 cup of broth to the pan and scrape as much browning off the skillet as possible.
  7. Place the onions and garlic on the bottom of the roasting pan and place the brisket on top.
  8. Add the cup of broth from the pan plus the remaining cup to the roasting pan.
  9. Cover the pan and cook for 2 hours. Return to the pan, flip the meat and cook for another 2 hours.
During the last half hour or so, you can throw in potatoes and carrots or whatever. I also cook a pot of rice for my husband during this time.

The meat should be thinly sliced before serving. The gravy is fine as is for serving with vegetables and rice, or you can thicken it with 1 tablespoon of flour mixed in 1 cup of water. Add this to the pan and stir.

*A few words on broth: you can make your own broth easily enough, or you can use a carton of store-bought broth or you can use boullion cubes and boiling water to make your own. I like the last option, and I use three different flavours of cubes to get lots of flavour. Mushroom, onion and miso are my favourites for this dish.

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