Food & Cooking Blog

We Never Thought of Serving Beef With Cranberry Sauce!

Turkey’s not for everyone. If you’re bored with the traditional holiday bird, or just want to try something a little different, here’s a great alternative that’s juicy, delicious and satisfying. Braised beef brisket isn’t difficult to make, will not break the bank and will definitely feed a hungry crowd! This recipe is for a simple beef brisket topped with homemade, guilt-free cranberry sauce!

braised beef brisket
braised beef brisket and cranberry

What is beef brisket?

Brisket is a large and long cut from the chest/breast portion of a steer or other bovine animal. This cut is boneless and inexpensive compared to others cuts just as large because it’s a tougher hunk of meat which contains a lot of connective tissues throughout the muscle.

Brisket is perfect for a low and slow cooking method such as braising, because it takes a long cooking process to breakdown, render and soften the collagen fiber, which then makes for really tender and juicy meat. There is a fat cap on brisket that is much thicker on the “second cut” than the “first cut”. These are the legitimate names for two different parts of the cut. Either can be used for this recipe.

sliced beef brisket on wood cutting board

How much brisket do I need?

The rule of thumb is a ½ pound per person, plus an extra pound or two for contingency. I love making brisket during the holidays because the meat is so versatile. Leftover brisket is delicious in sandwiches, tacos or casseroles. I like to buy an extra pound just so we’re guaranteed to have leftovers. I typically freeze the leftover slices and thaw out smaller amounts for meals after the holidays.

How long will this take?

This process will take a day and a half. One full day to marinate and a few hours to cook and rest. The cranberry sauce takes about 10 minutes to make. Really, waiting is the most difficult part of this recipe. Make sure you have fridge space for the roasting pan! Let’s get started!

Beef brisket and cranberry sauce recipe

For the brisket:

  • Beef brisket (my brisket is 6 lbs.)
  • 1½ cups beef stock
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup red wine (optional)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion
  • 1½ – 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Parsley for garnish

For the cranberry sauce:

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • Zest of one lemon

Making the brisket

Step 1:

Pour beef stock, lemon juice and wine (if using) into a large roasting pan.

Peel and smash (or rough-chop) garlic. Add garlic, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt into the pan and give it a stir.

Step 2:

raw brisket

Place brisket on a board and liberally rub salt, pepper and onion powder on both sides. Larger cuts will need more onion powder (that’s why there’s a range listed on the ingredients).<

Step 3:

marinating beef brisket

Cut the onion into slices and arrange in a thick layer on the bottom center of the pan. Lay the brisket, fat side up, on top of the onions. Pour some of the liquid over the top. Cover tightly in foil and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Step 4:

braised beef brisket

After a day of dreaming about brisket, now it’s time to roast! Preheat oven to 275 F. Place the roasting pan (still covered in foil) into the oven. The rule of thumb is about 45 minutes per pound to cook. My brisket is just shy of 6 pounds, so this will need to roast for about 4.5 hours.

Step 5:

Remove the brisket from the oven and take extra care with opening the foil covering as the steam escaping could burn you. The meat on the edges should be fork-tender and fall apart. Cover loosely and let the meat rest for about 15-20 minutes.

Step 6:

removing fat caps from brisket

Once the meat has rested, use a spoon to remove the fat cap. I like using a spoon instead of slicing it off because it’s a more thorough method of getting rid of the fat without compromising any of the meat! Discard the fat.

brisket with fat caps removed

Place the meat on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice pieces against the grain. Brush the meat with (or pour over) the pan juices. Give it a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and chopped parsley and serve immediately. I like to serve it right on the cutting board!

Reserve the pan juices for auju steak sandwiches (for leftovers) or to make gravy. Place any leftover meat in a container and pour the pan juices over the top before refrigerating.

Making the cranberry sauce

Step 1:

cranberry sauce ingredients in mixing bowl

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Step 2:

cranberry sauce in mixing bowl

Allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over the brisket.

So will it be braised beef brisket or turkey this year? Either way, be sure to check out all of the great meals that you can make with your Thanksgiving leftovers!

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