How to Make Brisket for the Masses
In my recipe for The Best Brisket Ever, I have you sear and slow cook your 6-8 pound brisket in a dutch oven. And that’s great. Ideal in fact. It will feed 10-20 people, depending how much other food you are serving.
But what if you are having a large gathering with the in-laws, and the in-laws of the in-laws, you know exactly what I mean…what if you are hosting the Jewish Holidays? I mean, what if you need a buffet to feed 50 people, or even 100 people?
Do you call a caterer? You can. In fact I know the best one (in Los Angeles.) But really, I’d like you to feel empowered to carry out this undertaking on your own because it’s easier than you may think.
Brisket, unlike some other dishes, is easily scalable.
In order to understand how to make brisket for the masses, you must first understand the methodology behind making a brisket. Don’t worry, it’s simple.
1.Brisket, like all red meat, must be seared in a pan with some oil so that it browns and even caramelizes. This is step one to good flavor.
2. Brisket must be cooked with liquids, covered, for a loooong time, ideally in a low temperature oven (200-350 F). The lower the temp, the longer it takes to cook, and this is a good thing, if you have time. You want your brisket to be extra juicy and tender and the slow cooking method wth liquid makes this happen perfectly. My brisket recipe walks you through cooking times and temps.
3. Brisket needs to be cooked in a heavy, tightly covered oven-safe pan or casserole. A dutch oven is ideal for insulating your meat while it cooks, but if you have 50 people coming over, you would need to buy 3 more dutch ovens, which at $350 a piece is likely not too appealing.
When making brisket for the masses, the point is to simulate the dutch oven cooking experience using (disposable) cooking pans that you can easily use when you need to feed the whole mishpucha and then some.
Here’s what you do: (Obviously you will follow the specifics of your favorite brisket recipe, but this is the cut-out of the procedure.
1. Figure out how much brisket you need. I recommend a touch more than a 1/2 pound a person of uncooked meat. (The portions shrink once the meat is cooked and your remove the fat.) Some people will eat more. Some will eat less. And usually when brisket is served, so is a lot of other food so you may find yourself with leftovers, which is never a bad thing. That means, if you need to feed 20 people, get 12 pounds of brisket. Need to feed 50? Cook 30-33 pounds of brisket. Catch the drift? Divide the number of people by two and then add a few more pounds.
2. Multiply your other ingredients by how many pounds of brisket you are using and round up. What if the recipe calls for a 6-8 pound brisket and your are making 20 pounds? Multiply all the other ingredients by 3 or even 4. Making 30 pounds of brisket? Multiply all the other ingredients by 4 or 5. It’s better to err on having too much sauce, than not enough, so go ahead and round up.
3. Sear all of the meat using a dutch oven and/or the the biggest frying pans you have. You might want to use a few pans at a time to speed the process. This is the part that will take the longest as you will have to sear all of the pieces of meat very well using only a few pans. You can cut briskets in half or thirds to fit them in your pan or dutch oven!
4. Get big disposable foil roasting pans and double up on them. By putting your brisket into a double layer of foil pan, you are getting closer to the heavy duty insulation of the dutch oven. I like the full-sized ones sold at CostCo, over 2 feet long, which can hold as much as 15 pounds of brisket, slightly overlapping.
As per my recipe, you will lay onions down on the bottom of the disposable pans, followed by brisket (fat-side up), and then you will top the brisket with celery, carrots, tomatoes, herbs and wine. And kosher salt of course. It’s easy.
5. Cover your pans VERY VERY well to simulate the insulation that the dutch oven provides. That means, don’t just give it a piece of tin foil on top. Wrap it ENTIRELY, multiple times, with heavy duty aluminum foil so that no steam or juices could possibly escape. Both the bottom, top and sides of your disposable pans will have multiple layers of heavy duty foil around them and this will make them function like a dutch oven. Got it?
f. Bake. You can put 2-3 pans of brisket in your oven at a time, depending on it’s size. Imagine that! up to 45 pounds of brisket in just one oven. That would feed….??…how many…??…I’m checking your math skills. That’s right. That could feed just up to 90 people! Wowzers! Now, that’s a party…..
The moral of the story is: you don’t have to be a chef to feed the masses! So start inviting everyone over.
P.S. If you would like my Free Passover Recipe Bible with 21 recipes for the Jewish holidays, you can find it here.