Onion-Braised Beef Brisket
serves 8 to 10
pressure cook total time
4 hours 30 minutes
slow cook total time
why this recipe works The multicooker has the ability to produce meltingly tender brisket and a flavorful sauce, but getting there requires a few tricks. We started with a flat cut brisket, which we halved to make it easier to fit in the multicooker. Browning both halves built up a savory base for our braising liquid, and by further amping up the braising liquid’s flavor with lots of aromatics, it could later double as a luxurious serving sauce. We softened a generous 2½ pounds of onions in the rendered fat from the meat, adding garlic, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, and plenty of herbs to round out the flavor. A combination of broth and wine added savory depth and brightness. Our brisket needed a long cooking time, whether we cooked it on the pressure setting or the slow setting, to become fully tender, but our real breakthrough came when we left the brisket in the turned-off multicooker for an extra hour: This rest time allowed the meat to soak up some of the liquid it had lost during cooking, leading to a moister, more sliceable texture. After the brisket’s rest, we took it out of the pot and used the sauté function to reduce the sauce to the right consistency before serving.
1 (3½- to 4-pound) beef brisket, flat cut, fat trimmed to ¼ inch, halved crosswise
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2½ pounds onions, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup dry red wine
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 Pat brisket dry with paper towels and place fat side up on cutting board. Using fork, poke holes in meat through fat layer about 1 inch apart. Season with salt and pepper.
2 Using highest sauté or browning function, heat oil in multi- cooker for 5 minutes (or until just smoking). Place 1 brisket half fat side down in multicooker and cook until well browned, about 8 minutes. Flip brisket and cook until well browned on second side, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to large plate. Repeat with second brisket half; transfer to plate.
3 Add onions and ¼ teaspoon salt to fat left in multicooker and cook until onions are softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, paprika, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, wine, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle brisket halves into onion mixture (pieces will overlap), adding any accumulated juices.
4A to pressure cook Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 1½ hours. Turn off multicooker and let pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure and let brisket sit, covered, for 1 hour. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
4B to slow cook Lock lid in place and open pressure release valve. Select low slow cook function and cook until beef is tender and knife slips easily in and out of meat, 6½ to 7½ hours. (If using Instant Pot, select high slow cook function and increase cooking range to 10 to 11 hours.) Turn off multicooker and let brisket sit, covered, for 1 hour. Carefully remove lid.
5 Transfer brisket to carving board and tent with aluminum foil. Strain braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer into bowl. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Reserve onions in separate bowl. Let liquid settle, then skim excess fat from surface using large spoon. Return liquid to multicooker and cook using highest sauté or browning function until reduced to about 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes.
6 Slice brisket against grain into ¼-inch-thick slices and place slices on serving dish. Stir reserved onions and vinegar into sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over brisket and serve.
Recipe from our partners at America’s Test Kitchen