• 3-4 lb. first or second cut brisket (top of the rib roast is a cheaper alternative that works well too)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp honey or brown sugar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup port
  • 2-3 cups water or stock
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Optional: half a small lime, sprinkle of sugar


  1. Heat a large frying pan—large enough to fit your entire brisket without folding it—over high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides. When you hold your hand above the pan and feel intense heat radiating, drizzle a tablespoon of oil into the pan and swirl it around. Put your brisket in the pan and do not move it for 3-4 minutes. When the meat has a good crust, flip it and repeat on the second side. Transfer the meat to your instant pot (or a deep roasting dish, if you’re using the oven).
  2. While the meat is browning, chop your vegetables: Cut the onion into thin quarter-rounds, slice the celery and carrots thinly. When the meat is done, reduce the heat to medium and cook the vegetables in the same frying pan, picking up the brown bits the meat has left on the bottom of the pan. Add a sprinkle of salt and if it seems dry, a dash of oil. Cook, stirring regularly, until vegetables are just starting to soften. Add the garlic and saute a couple minutes more, until garlic is fragrant. Transfer the vegetables to the instant pot (or the roasting dish if you’re using the oven). (No need to wash the frying pan yet, you’ll use it again later.)
  3. Add the tamarind paste, honey, wine, port, and water. Move the meat around if necessary to make sure it is almost completely submerged. Drop in the bay leaves, and star anise.
  4. Seal the instant pot and cook for 90 minutes (after it has been brought to pressure). Release pressure and open the lid. (If you’re using the oven, cover the pan tightly, cook the first hour at 400, then reduce temperature to 250 and cook 4 more hours until fork tender.)
  5. Remove the meat and set aside.
  6. Strain the liquid and transfer back to the frying pan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to about ½ - ⅔. Taste as you go, and stop before the flavor becomes too intense. You’re not looking for a thick syrupy consistency, you need to be able to reheat the brisket in this liquid. When the sauce has reduced, balance the seasoning to taste. I added a squeeze of fresh lime, a sprinkle of sugar (probably about 1 tablespoon) and some salt.
  7. Pour the sauce back over the meat and refrigerate overnight. Slice the meat thinly against the grain, and return to the sauce until ready to re-heat and serve. Freezes well.

Note 1: First cut brisket is tougher and might need to simmer in the sauce for a while to become as soft as desired. If you’re using second cut, on the other hand, you might want to be careful NOT to let it cook too much further to prevent it from falling apart.

Note 2: If you are using a small piece of meat—or don’t mind cutting your roast into two smaller pieces—you can do the first two steps in the instant pot instead of using a separate frying pan.