Somehow, brisket has become standard Rosh Hashanah fare across North America, so I would be remiss not to share my recipe as well as a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

I’m no meat maven, but I’m learning, and the two most important things to consider when cooking brisket are:

  1. Let the meat shine. Often people drown brisket in all kinds of bottled sauces, but I suggest saving that for cheaper cuts. Use spices, herbs and milder liquids to enhance the flavor of the brisket.
  2. Patience, patience, patience! Cook the meat on a low temperature for a long time. Don’t try to rush it, or you’ll end up with hard, dry, chewy meat—not the pleasant, melt-in-your-mouth texture you were hoping for.

Now, on to specifics. Cut the onions in rounds, and put them on the bottom of a baking dish. Mix the paprika, garlic powder, chives and salt in a small bowl. Pat the spice rub all over both sides of the meat, until it can hold no more. Now put the brisket on top of the onions and into the oven at 400° F for 1 hour, uncovered.

Take it out and turn the oven down to 250° F. Pour ½ cup balsamic vinegar and ⅓ cup honey over the meat. It may look like not a lot of liquid, but the meat and onions both let out lots of juices, and you end up with plenty (as you can see in the pictures). Cover the pan tightly with foil and return to the oven. Cook for another 4 hours, until meat is fork tender—meaning a fork goes in with almost no resistance. Approximately once an hour take it out and turn the meat, so both sides get equally moist. (If you’re busy, you can skip the turning; just make sure to turn it once, about halfway through.) Cooking time will vary, depending on the size and thickness of your brisket, so make sure to use the fork test.

Once it’s ready, refrigerate the meat overnight, then remove from the sauce and cut into thin slices, against the grain. Return slices to the sauce and reheat in the oven or over a low flame on the stovetop when ready to serve. Freezes well. Serve with the sauce and onions.


  • 3 lb. first-cut brisket
  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. dried chives (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 large Spanish onions
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup honey


  1. Slice the onions in rounds. Place them in the bottom of a baking dish.
  2. Combine the paprika, garlic powder, chives and salt in a small bowl. Cover the brisket with the spice mixture. Pat it in gently until the meat can hold no more.
  3. Place the meat on top of the onions and put it into the oven at 400° F for 1 hour.
  4. Take the pan out of the oven, add the balsamic vinegar and honey, and cover the baking dish tightly. Return the pan to the oven, lower the temperature to 250° F, and cook for another 4 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
  5. Refrigerate the meat until completely cold (preferably overnight), then cut in thin slices against the grain. Return the sliced meat to the sauce. Reheat in the oven, or over a low flame. Serve with the onions and sauce.

Yields: Approximately 40 thin slices.

Do you eat brisket on Rosh Hashanah? How do you cook it? Any special family recipes?