Boiled Brisket of Beef

Until recently in New Orleans, the favorite method of cooking brisket is to boil it. Now smoked barbecue-style brisket has taken over, and the good old boiled brisket has faded. It has a wonderful by-product: the beef broth that comes from the boiling. In many cuisines, this is done mainly to derive a stock for making soups our sauces; the meat is often discarded. But despite the long cooking time, the brisket still has a lot of flavor, and makes a great match with boiled cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Serve it with any of the many variations of horseradish sauce you can come up with.

Boiled beef gives us the ultimate stock for making vegetable soup. Which is great with some brisket floating around in the bowl. Be sure to save it if you’re not ready to make the soup today. It freezes and stores easily.

  • 4 to 6 lbs. choice brisket, preferably the butt end
  • 1 large onion, cut into eight pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, cut into chunks
  • Leafy tops of 1 bunch celery
  • Stems of 1 bunch parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 2 cloves (not essential, but it makes the kitchen smell good)
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup Creole mustard
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce (or ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish

1. Bring two gallons of water to a boil in a large stockpot.

2. Trim all huge slabs of fat from the brisket, but don’t be too severe about this. Cut it if necessary into two or three pieces to fit your pot. (It’s okay if it sticks out a little bit.) Put it into the water (no need to wait for it to boil). Add all the other ingredients. Cover the pot.

3. When the pot comes to a boil, lower it to the lowest possible temperature. Simmer for four to six hours, or whatever it takes for the brisket to pull apart when clutched with tongs. Skim off the scum that may rise to the surface.

4. Remove the brisket and set aside. Strain out the vegetables and discard, but save the beef stock for other uses–notably vegetable soup. The stock can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week, or it can be frozen almost indefinitely.

5. Slice the brisket it or serve it in large cubes, but cut against the grain with a sharp, non-serrated knife. The meat will be falling apart and easy to eat. Serve with boiled cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.

6. To make the sauce, blend the three sauce ingredients. Serve cool.

Serves eight, with leftovers for sandwiches or to add to vegetable soup.