Shhh! I’m Not Preparing My Mother’s Brisket Recipe for Passover

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This braised beef brisket recipe has become another favorite choice for our Rosh Hashanah gathering. Not a drop of the meat or dried fruit, carrots, yams and tangy gravy are ever left on our Jewish New Year’s buffet! 

Last October, I shared my mother’s recipe for brisket, as I lamented the onset of fall but my anticipation for a long season of braising, my favorite method of cooking. Well we are almost into barbecue season but I have one last chance for The Big Braise. We are celebrating Passover with a family seder Friday night, and my nephew and his girlfriend are flying in to join us for the traditional symbolic meal. Seems like my mother always prepares the brisket but since she’s been busy enjoying Shakespeare in Ashland, Oregon, I offered to step in.

Grandma Ethel's Tzimmes style brisketBut I’m worried – I’m not using her recipe! Instead, I have adapted a recipe I found on Epicurious, originally from Gourmet magazine in April 2005. It is called Grandma Ethel’s Brisket with Tzimmes. I am hoping the word Grandma in the title will soften the blow of a new recipe. Actually I’ve made it before at my annual Rosh Hashanah gathering and some people give it an equal thumbs up to my mom’s. So pray for me people, please!

Tzimmes, if you are not familiar, is a meat or meatless dish that combines dried fruits, carrots, and sweet potatoes to create a sweet and savory side dish or main course. There are thousands of variations – every Jewish family must have their version. In fact, the recipe for this brisket says it is only a guideline – feel free to change it as you like.

Have a wonderful Passover or Easter! Eat well and enjoy the time with your family and friends.

For even more Passover recipe ideas – check out my complete Passover Guide.

Grandma Ethel's Tzimmes style brisket
5 from 3 votes

Grandma Ethel's Brisket with Tzimmes

Adapted from a Gourmet recipe by Karen Stabiner, April 2005

Course Main Course
Cuisine Jewish Holiday Cooking
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 12 servings
Calories 590 kcal
Author Beth Lee


  • 6-7 pounds first-cut brisket
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 1/2 cups  rich chicken stock or beef stock
  • 3/4 cup Sherry vinegar - an interesting ingredient that adds richness and a little tang to the resulting gravy
  • 2 lb carrots peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch-long pieces
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes or yams peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 3/4 cups dried pitted prunes dried apricots, and dried cherries (or whatever dried fruit you like or have in the house)


  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F or 325°F on convect.
  2. Slice onions across in thin slices (no need to chop), add the oil to your large roasting pan, straddled across two burners and heat to medium heat. Add onions and brown, moving them around to get a little color all over.
  3. While onions are getting some color (about 3 - 5 minutes), rub brisket all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Push the onions to the edges of your pan, turn heat up to medium to medium high and place the brisket fat side down into the pan. Brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the pan from heat, add the 1/2 cup of red wine to the pan to start deglazing the yummies from the bottom. then add stock and vinegar to pan. Cover pan tightly with heavy-duty foil and braise brisket in oven 2 hours.
  5. Add carrots to pan and braise, covered, 1 hour. Then add the potatoes and dried fruit AND cut the meat. This is my mother's trick. Slice the meat ACROSS THE GRAIN and then carefully place it back in the pan (along with the added potatoes and dried fruit and finish the braise, covered, until meat is fork-tender and potatoes are soft, about 30 - 60 minutes more. Cool meat, uncovered, to room temperature, about 1 hour, then chill, covered, at least 12 hours (or freeze).

    Grandma Ethel's Tzimmes style brisket
  6. To reheat, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F or 325°F on convect. Discard as much fat as possible from surface of vegetables and sauce, then cover with foil, place in oven until heated through, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then arrange meat with tzimmes and sauce on a large platter.

    Braising Brisket
  7. If the oven is not available and your meat is in a pan that is stove-top safe, you can reheat on medium low on the stove-top.

Recipe Notes

** Choices for what stock to use - this linked stock was also from Gourmet April 2005 and is a chicken stock that starts with roasting the chicken and vegetables which creates a rich, brown-looking chicken stock that would be perfect for this dish. Any homemade chicken stock (I like Ina Garten's) that is rich and jelly-like when cooled will work. Or, if your freezer is devoid of homemade stock (as mine was this time), buy store-bought but be sure it is stock, if possible or buy Demi-Glace which is a super-reduced very flavorful stock-type ingredient. Another option is beef broth for this dish which I what I have been doing and I love it. If you are keeping kosher for Passover, be sure to check the store-bought labels carefully, as they might have an additive that would be dietarily inappropriate.

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31 Responses to Shhh! I’m Not Preparing My Mother’s Brisket Recipe for Passover

  1. Jenni September 9, 2018 at 5:03 am #

    5 stars
    Sounds fantastic, Beth! Enjoy your day! xo

  2. Vicki Hollander March 23, 2018 at 10:58 am #

    Oh THANK YOU! Beth Lee! Right now I’m living in ‘end of the world’ Texas (Lubbock)…:) that sounds just wonderful!!
    Do you by any chance have
    1) a great matzah ball recipe? (mine’s just OK from the box)
    2) a great non-chocolate dessert recipe? (can’t take the caffeine at night)
    Love your postings and recipes!!

    • Beth Lee March 23, 2018 at 11:04 am #

      I am actually working on a matzo ball recipe – need one more test run to publish but one thing I learned is that boiling them in chicken broth bumps up the flavor so that right there will improve them. I’ll try to finish my testing this weekend and either publish the recipe or share it with you. As for the non-chocolate dessert – should I assume keeping kosher so no dairy in the dessert?

      • Vicki Hollander March 23, 2018 at 1:05 pm #

        Oh I’d love to see what you come up with re: matza balls…yes I’ve boiled them in chicken broth…but…something’s just missing in my recipe:)
        so I’d love to try what you’ve worked out and like!
        Some years I do a vegetarian dinner so dairy would work:)!!
        Thank you so much!!

        I LOVE your roasted tomato sauce…oh my is that fantastic!!!

        • Beth Lee March 23, 2018 at 3:18 pm #

          The roasted tomato sauce is the bomb! Will be updating the recipe soon – just minor modifications and way better photos! Re matzo balls – do you like floaters or sinkers? light or dense? And re dessert – Check out my friend Emily Paster’s website – West of the Loop – she just posted a couple of really creative non chocolate dessert recipes for Passover. Also check out my pinterest board of Passover Recipes. Do you like almonds? My friend Paula Levitt just suggested modifying her Italian almond cake recipe with matzo meal – does that interest you? I can send you that link.

          • Vicki Hollander March 23, 2018 at 4:20 pm #

            You are so right! I could just have that tomato sauce nightly!!! SOOO good!! I like in-betweener matzah balls, not too heavy, but not so light they disappear…(I like them any way I can get them, just am not excited about my recipe!) Lovely lead about Emily’s site, I’ll try to find it…and I’ll try to find your pinterest board too….and yes I do love almonds! About the only thing I’m not wild about is okra:) I’d Love that link to Paula’s recipe…sounds wonderful!! Thank you so so much…you are marvelous!! Keep going!!!

          • Beth Lee March 23, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

            I am a sucker for helping people succeed in the kitchen. I will put aside many other necessary projects to have this conversation :-). Here is La Bella Sorella’s almond cake recipe url: You can find Emily’s passover recipes at I especially like the most recent two dessert recipes she posted that will show on the home page. And you can find my pinterest board here: I’ll keep you posted on the matzo balls. Good to know you like an in-between version cuz I am learning a lot about that as I test this recipe.

  3. Vicki Hollander March 23, 2018 at 9:07 am #

    Oh I’d love to hear about the chicken recipe….
    I’ve flunked brisket and am having a tiny tiny seder…and it’s hot where I lived…
    so easy is GREAT!!!
    Thank you! But will save this for a cooler time!

    • Beth Lee March 23, 2018 at 10:42 am #

      Where are you writing from Vicki? I’ll take a little of that heat right about now! Re the chicken mentioned above – it is an old recipe from a Hadassah cookbook from Canada from 1982. This is for 2 fryers (cut up) so if you are having a small group, maybe half the recipe: 1 cup apricot pineapple preserves (I would look for some lower in sugar), 1/3 cup mustard (use dijon), 2 tsp lemon zest (use zest of unwaxed preferably organic lemons), 1/3 cup lemon juice. Combine these ingredients (says to heat it but I don’t think it really matters) and pour over chicken. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes then place slices of lemon on top and bake 30 minutes more. It’s super easy and really delicious. And yes, eat the lemon slices – I think they are yummy especially if you use meyer lemons.

      • Vicki Hollander March 23, 2018 at 10:57 am #

        Oh THANK YOU! Beth Lee! Right now I’m living in ‘end of the world’ Texas (Lubbock)…:) that sounds just wonderful!!
        Do you by any chance have
        1) a great matzah ball recipe? (mine’s just OK from the box)
        2) a great non-chocolate dessert recipe? (can’t take the caffeine at night)
        Love your postings and recipes!!

  4. Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy April 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    This is the first year that I am not making my family’s famous brisket recipe– so I love that you ventured out too. Don’t get me wrong, the family recipe is really good and reliable, but it’s time to say good bye to Lipton onion soup mix and ketchup. Wish me luck!

    • Beth Lee April 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      I am not even making brisket this year! I am going with an old apricot lemon dijon mustard chix. What recipe are you using?

      • Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy April 21, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

        Your chicken sounds delicious. I am in the middle of developing a new brisket recipe– I’m trying to make something similar to my family recipe but without artificial ingredients. The sauce is basically onion, wine, and tomato. I’m hoping to get a good photo so I can post it.

        • Beth Lee April 21, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

          I can’t wait to hear the details – love that u are doing that!

      • Vicki Hollander March 23, 2018 at 9:06 am #

        Oh I’d love to hear about the chicken recipe….
        I’ve flunked brisket and am having a tiny tiny seder…and it’s hot where I lived…
        so easy is GREAT!!!
        Thank you! But will save this for a cooler time!

  5. paula April 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Beth, I am enjoying your blog SO much!! It’s such a welcome sight in my inbox! I am going to try this brisket recipe—brisket has always been a challenge for me–and I love the tzimmes! Can’t wait to see what you have coming up!! Thank you!

    • omgyummy April 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Oh that makes my day again! So glad you look forward to it Paula!

      So the trick with brisket is to cut it properly (perpendicular to the grain or across the grain) and to cut it either an hour before it is done cooking or after it is cold, if you are not eating it right away. Also, letting it be in the fridge for a day is wonderful for amping up the flavor a bit more.

      And don’t get too concerned with exact times, your fork will tell you what you need to know for doneness – veggies and meat should be fork tender.

  6. bibberche April 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I have to try this one day (and there is always a convenient day for braising – I don’t look at the calendar:)
    Looks really comforting and tasty and I love the idea of tzimmes!
    Enjoy your Holiday!

    • omgyummy April 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      You would make a wonderful version and it is great leftover or in sandwiches or or or….

      Yes, I really do braise all year round but definitely more in the cold seasons.

      Happy holidays to you too Lana!

  7. sandy corman April 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    looks good to me.

    • omgyummy April 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      Well if I’ve got your approval then I guess I’m good to go!

  8. lizthechef April 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    It is so hard to make brisket into a beauty shot – but you did it!

    • omgyummy April 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      OMG! Liz – you have no idea how much I appreciate that comment! I worked harder than normal, including different light and different cameras. Thanks for noticing! You made my day.

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