Guinness Braised Brisket

whiskeybrisketBrisket....I'm licking my lips. I love it. I've always loved long as it's cooked right. Let's face it, it's a tough, flat piece of meat. It's a chest muscle. The only way to cook it right, is low and slow...which is why we braise. And the Guinness adds a nice layer of deep complexity to the sauce, just like red wine does to a pot roast. However, since the barley used to make Guinness is roasted, you get this really deep flavor in dished like this.

Braising melts all that intramuscular fat and works through the connective tissues. It's a three method process and worth every minute of time spent. Braising includes browning, deglazing and simmering, but really, the meat is in the oven most of the might as well just forget about it and go read a book.

The torture comes in with the amazing smells coming from the leaves me hungry all day. ALL. DAY. I end up snacking on things I shouldn't because of that meat smell. UGH. Let's just say I might have eaten a few too many cookies yesterday. UGH. And why does smelling meat make me eat cookies?

Anyway...this will go perfectly on your St. Patrick's Day table...I made some crunchy red potatoes on the side. I just browned them in some butter and added coarse salt and parsley. But this dish begs to be served with mashed potatoes as well...mostly to sop up all that sauce....yum.

Guinness Braised Brisket
Adapted from recipes via Food & Wine, Bon Appetit & Cuisine at Home
Serves four

4 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced
1 beef brisket, (2-1/2 lbs), trimmed
Fresh ground pepper
3 cups onion, diced
2 cups carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
15 sprigs parsley
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2-1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 can (14.9 ounces) Guinness stout beer
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare brisket by trimming the surface fat known as silver-skin. Your knife should slide right under it and then you can easily cut it and the fat off. Blot the brisket dry as to not create steam during the browning process. Season the brisket with fresh ground pepper.

In a large Dutch oven (7 qt) crisp bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon, leaving drippings in the pot (use the crispy bacon in another dish, I used mine in the potatoes). Turn up stove to med-high heat. Brown both sides of the meat in the bacon drippings (the browner the better), about 5 minutes per side. If you need to add more oil to prevent burning, do so. Remove the meat.

The layers of sugars and proteins that are now stuck to the pan need to be removed by deglazing. Add the onion, carrots and celery and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits with the moisture from the vegetables. Add garlic after three minutes and deglaze one minute more. Stir in parsley, thyme and peppercorns. Place beef back in the pot.

Add stock/broth and beer; bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven, braising for two hours. Turn beef over and braise an additional 2 hours, or until fork tender. (If your piece of meat is larger, you might have to braise longer, but you may need to add a little more liquid if it is low. Meat should be falling-apart tender.)

Remove meat from broth and keep warm. Strain the broth into a saucepan, throwing away all solids. Bring sauce to a boil and stir in vinegar and tomato paste.

Now, in order to get that sheen, beautiful sauce you are going to combine the butter and the flour with a fork, mashing it together to a make ball of kneaded butter. This will help thicken the sauce and give it flavor. However, you want to whisk in only a little bit at a time into the sauce...whisking out all the little flour lumps. Simmer for five minutes. It's very simple and will give you a beautiful sauce. Serve brisket with potatoes.


Cathy owns a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  She is a food writer forDavis Life Magazine and blogs daily about wine, food and everyday living.  She lives with her husband and two sons.  You can visit her at