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Gail Simmons' Passover Brisket with Braised Vegetables and Horseradish Dressing

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
4 hrs
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

My mother, and grandmother before her, passed along a few traditional Jewish recipes that remain holiday staples for me to this day — beef brisket among them. No matter how ubiquitous the dish may be, I crave it like clockwork at Passover. Over the years, I have modified my mother's sacred recipe (much to her dismay!). I added a horseradish and parsley gremolata (symbolic of the Seder plate) and deglaze the pan with red wine to give the dish bright balance and a rich sauce. I hope that my daughter will one day make a version of this brisket for her own family, adapting it as she sees fit.

Technique tip: If you don't have a fat separator, pour the liquid into a bowl and freeze it until the fat solidifies, then skim off and discard the fat.

This recipe can be made ahead through to when the brisket is braised. Cool in the pan juices, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Refrigerate the vegetables in a separate container. Before serving, skim the fat from the surface of the pan juices. Slice the brisket while it's cold, then arrange in a roasting pan or baking dish with the vegetables and pan juices; cover the pan tightly with foil, sealing the edges. Heat in a 350 F oven until the vegetables and meat are warmed through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and meat to a platter and season the juices with the horseradish and salt and pepper directly in the pan.

Swap option: Swap in your favorite other roots vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips or rutabaga. If you can't find fresh horseradish, use a little prepared horseradish instead, or omit it altogether.

Special equipment: Extra-wide (18-inch) heavy-duty aluminum foil and a fat separator.


  • 1 (5.5-pound) first-cut brisket
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • pounds cipollini onions or small shallots, peeled
  • 4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, 1 finely chopped, divided
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth, heated to a simmer
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 medium lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish (optional)



Heat the oven to 350 F with the rack in the middle. Season the brisket all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.


In a large roasting pan set over 2 burners, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the brisket and cook over medium-high heat, turning, until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a rimmed baking sheet, fat-side up.


Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the onions, carrots, fennel and celery, and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add 3 whole garlic cloves. Continue cooking until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate; set aside.


Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot, for 1 minute. Return the brisket to the pan, fat-side up. Add the broth and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pan tightly with the extra-wide foil, sealing the edges; transfer to the oven and braise for 2 hours.


Remove the pan from the oven, then carefully loosen and remove the foil. Scatter the reserved vegetables around the brisket. Reseal the pan tightly with the foil, return to the oven and braise until the brisket is very tender, about 1 hour more.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the freshly grated horseradish, parsley, lemon zest and the chopped garlic. This is your gremolata.


Transfer the brisket to a carving board and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a serving platter and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.


Pour the juices from the pan into a fat separator and let stand until the fat rises to the surface. Pour the juices into a small saucepan; discard the fat. (If you don't have a fat separator, pour the liquid into a bowl and let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight or freeze until the fat solidifies. Skim off and discard the fat.)


Gently warm the juices over low heat. Whisk in 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, if using, bring to a simmer and reduce slightly, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer the juices to a small pitcher or gravy boat.


Thinly slice the brisket against the grain and transfer to the platter with the vegetables. Sprinkle liberally with the gremolata and serve, passing the gravy boat of pan juices at the table.