Joey's Grandma Esther's Brisket

Joey's Grandma Esther's Brisket

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 125 minutes
Servings: 6

Chef Joey Altman's great-grandma Esther was a fine cook. Nothing extravagant, but everything was delicious. Her vegetables were always soft and would be considered overcooked by most people, but the more she cooked them, the more the flavors intensified. Her brisket recipe is the epitome of that phenomenon. It makes a soul-satisfying main course for a Passover seder. Spaetzle is the perfect accompaniment.


  • 1/2 Tbs. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 Tbs. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. dried parsley
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 first-cut beef brisket, 3 to 4 lb.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and cut into 1/2-inch-
      thick slices
  • 2 leeks, both white and light green portions, cut
      into 1/2-inch rounds and rinsed well
  • 10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 quarts water, or as needed
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 bunch turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 1 bunch baby carrots, peeled


In a spice grinder, combine the white pepper, sage, ginger, cumin, parsley and salt and pulse until finely ground. Rub the spice mixture over the brisket, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 325°F.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and leeks and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the brisket, garlic, bay leaves and enough water to cover the meat. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour. Add the parsnips, turnips and carrots to the pan, cover and bake for 1 hour more.

Transfer the brisket to a carving board and cut against the grain into thin slices. Place on a warmed platter and spoon the pan juices over the meat. Serve the vegetables alongside. Serves 6.

Joey Altman, Chef and Host of Bay Café, KRON TV.
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