Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

Here in Los Angeles, quarantine 2.0 is in place. Indoor restaurants are closed, along with movie theaters…those places you escape to when it gets too hot to be outside. My favorite markets are still open, although we have masks and lines, social distance dances in the aisles, and bizarre shortages. Looking for something meaty to throw on the grill, I was faced with an empty meat case…the only cut left being brisket. The “new normal” makes everything surprising but strangely accepted, and I dug into cooking for comfort with my brisket and a pile of beautiful mushrooms, while I recalled an article I read where an Italian mother said, “Instead of stocking up on toilet paper, buy food that you’ve always wanted to cook but never had the time to. In lock down, you’ll have the leisure to let things simmer, soak, and rise.” Seared, braised and smothered with caramelized mushrooms, I gave myself into the process while the kitchen bloomed with delicious aromas and I delivered a different type of summer comfort food.

Braised Brisket with Caramelized Mushrooms

Serves 8


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (5-pound) beef brisket
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and
    finely sliced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or Balsamic vinegar
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven over high heat until warm, then add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon.) When the oil has heated, add the brisket to the pan and season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sear the brisket until it is completely browned, and then flip over to the other side, seasoning that side with salt and pepper. Brown the opposite side and remove from the pan, setting aside on a plate.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and allow them to brown before stirring them. Once they have seared to a lovely, light golden brown, give them a stir and allow them to cook until all of their liquid has been released and are a deep golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and remove them from the pan, setting aside on another plate. 

Add a little more olive oil to the pan,  and then add the onions, celery and garlic, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir frequently until the vegetables have softened. Add the tomato paste and wine, stirring to incorporate everything, and cook for a few minutes until the mixture becomes thick and glossy. Add the tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine, cooking for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary sprigs, and put the brisket back into the pan, nestled into the vegetable and broth mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid opened to a small crack, and cook for an hour over low heat. After an hour, flip the brisket over and check liquid level, adding more chicken stock if necessary, and cook for another hour and a half. 

After two and a half hours of cooking time, check the brisket to see if it is fork tender by gently pulling at the corner of the meat. If the brisket is still tough, return back to the braising liquid and cook it for another 30 minutes. If it is tender, place it on a cutting board covered with aluminum foil to rest for 20 minutes.

While the brisket rests, strain the braising liquid in a fine meshed strainer, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Return the liquid back to the pan and bring to a boil, cooking for about 10 minutes to make the sauce thick and flavorful. Add the lemon juice or vinegar and taste the sauce for seasoning. Adjust the flavor with more salt, pepper and lemon juice or vinegar if needed. Stir the mushrooms into the sauce.

Slice the brisket thinly across the grain and top with mushrooms, sauce and fresh parsley to serve.

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