Spicy BBQ-Flavored Brisket

Mitchell Davis

James Beard Foundation, NYC

This is a brisket recipe from Mitchell’s friend Adam’s mother, Maxine. It’s only spicy in comparison to other Jewish food. In fact, the rich gravy has a mild, slightly sweet BBQ flavor that is delicious spooned over mashed potatoes.


  • One 6-pound whole beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
  • One 14-ounce bottle ketchup
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bay leaves


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the brisket, fat-side up, in a roasting pan large enough to hold it flat. In a bowl, combine the ketchup, onions, brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper, along with 1 1/4 cups water. Use some of the water to clean out the ketchup bottle. Blend well. Pour the ketchup mixture over the brisket to coat. Place the bay leaves on top of the meat. Cover the roasting pan and set in the oven for 2 hours.

Remove the brisket from the oven and cool. If you have the time, chill the brisket in its cooking liquid overnight. This makes slicing easier and allows you to remove the fat that congeals.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the brisket from the liquid and slice the meat on an angle across the grain into 1/4 to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices back into the cooking liquid. They should be submerged. Cover the pan again and return to the oven for 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours, until the meat is tender enough to cut with a fork.


10 to 12 servings