As we edge into fall and winter, braised dishes are all the rage.
If you haven’t made a braised dish before, you need to get the basics down now, so you can enjoy this style of cooking all season long.
So let’s break down the facts, shall we?
Braising is a way to cook meat slowly, so the meat (beef in this case) is tenderized and given time to develop a rich flavor. It also is an ideal way to cook less tender cuts of beef, such as the brisket that is used in this dish.
Essentially, you are cooking a large cut of meat with enough liquid to partially cover it as it simmers.
It’s not like stewing, where you have small pieces immersed in liquid to cook through. There’s a lot less liquid in this dish, so the meat is slowly cooked, but not stewed. It’s all about cooking the meat in a single piece, until it’s nice and tender.
Now that you know what braising is, let’s talk about the techniques that are most important to adhere to as you cook this recipe.
First, never skip browning the meat. This process adds flavor to the beef, but also to the sauce as well, via the fond, or the little browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan. You’ll deglaze, or scrape those up as you cook, contributing a good amount of flavor to the final dish.
Another tip is not to try to rush the cooking process. Braising is meant to be a slow cook, on a lower heat setting for a long period of time. You cook the meat until it is fork-tender and the result is pure, comforting magic.
This beef brisket is braised in apple cider, which brings out a whole new level of flavor in the meat itself. Yes, it’s just as delicious as it sounds. Trust me. I’ve even served this as an alternative to turkey one year for Thanksgiving!
This particular recipe might sound fancy, but it truly is a very easy dish to master. You have a few steps to complete in the beginning, but most of the cooking is done low and slow in the oven.
When you serve it to guests, they will be begging you for the recipe so they can replicate it at home. It’s the ultimate comfort meal for those chilly nights, and yet, it’s so easy to make.
The flavor of the apples, onions, and herbs really infuses the sauce with a richness and sweetness that complements the beef. There’s just the right amount of natural sugar from the apples, so the dish doesn’t go over the top on the sweet end of things.
Plus, the fresh herbs add an herbal note that you won’t be able to resist.
If you don’t love Gala apples like the ones that I used to make this at home, you can find out which other apple options are the best to use for cooking in our informative article.
No matter what flavor of apple you prefer, the sweetness and acidity of the fruit comes through to really balance out the rich savoriness of the meat.
All in all, it is a comforting meal that you will want to cozy up with any night of the week.Print
Forget traditional meat and potatoes – it’s time to upgrade your comfort food repertoire with tender apple cider braised beef. Get the recipe now on Foodal.
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4–5 pounds beef brisket, or similar cut, trimmed of fat
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 cups unfiltered apple cider, divided
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 apples, cored and sliced (I used Gala)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp cold water
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325˚F.
- Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef on all sides with salt and pepper. Melt butter in the Dutch oven, then add the beef. Cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer beef to a plate.
- Add olive oil to the pan. Add the onion to the pan and saute until soft and golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour in 1/4 cup apple cider to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits, or fond, from the bottom of the pan. Place the brisket back in the pan, along with the rosemary, thyme, the rest of the apple cider, and the apple cider vinegar.
- Bring to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven. Cook for 2 ½-3 hours, or until tender. Add the apples to the pan 30 minutes prior to the end of the cooking time.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly, then skim off any fat that has accumulated on the top. Transfer beef, onions, and apples to a plate or serving platter. Discard rosemary and thyme sprigs.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and cold water until combined. Add the slurry to the remaining sauce and stir occasionally over medium heat until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the beef, onions, and apples back to pan, or slice and serve on a platter alongside the sauce, with fresh parsley for garnish if you like. Enjoy immediately.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
- Category: Beef
- Method: Braising
- Cuisine: Dinner
Keywords: brisket, beef, apple cider, apple, autumn
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare Brisket, Slice Vegetables and Fruit, and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Trim the beef brisket of any excess fat, then set aside.
Slice the yellow onion and set it aside. Not a fan of this job? Check out our tips so say goodbye to those tears!
Core the apples and slice them thinly. Set aside.
Measure all remaining ingredients as listed in the ingredients list. Be sure to use unfiltered apple cider for this recipe. Do not use hard cider or spiced cider.
Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
Step 2 – Brown Beef
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Season the brisket on all sides with salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in the Dutch oven. Add the beef and brown it on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the beef from the pan and set it aside temporarily on a plate.
Step 3 – Cook Onions and Garlic
Add the olive oil to the hot pan. Add the onion to the pan, and saute until soft and golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until its fragrance fills the air, being careful not to burn it.
Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of apple cider, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Don’t use a metal utensil here, to avoid scratching your cookware.
Step 4 – Braise the Beef
Add the browned beef back to the pan along with the rosemary, thyme, remaining apple cider, and apple cider vinegar. Cover with a lid.
Place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours.
Add the apples to the brisket dish and cook for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, until tender.
Step 5 – Make Sauce
Remove the pan from oven and let it cool slightly. Skim off any fat that may have accumulated on top, and discard it. Transfer the cooked beef, onions, and apples to a plate. Discard the rosemary and thyme sprigs.
If you need more liquid to make the pan sauce, you have the option at this point to add more apple cider, or a little beef broth.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until combined. Add the slurry to the remaining sauce and simmer while stirring occasionally over medium heat until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the beef, onions, and apples back to the pan. Serve immediately.
What do I Serve with This Braised Dish?
The main question that I get about this recipe is, what should I serve with this dish?
With the onions and the apples, you have some vegetables and fruit already in the dish. However, I find that adding a starch really helps to pull the whole meal together.
That could be a side of rice, or a big platter of garlic knots.
For me, that means potatoes. Whether they are mashed, roasted, or whole baked potatoes, the starchy root vegetable is ideal for pairing with the rich braised beef dish. You can also serve this meal over rice (brown or white), if you prefer.
Here are a few suggestions from our archives that you might enjoy:
Leftovers? Great! You can thinly slice any remaining meat and add make an unforgettable appetizer of roast beef sliders.
What would you like to serve alongside this dish? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you’ve tried it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on November 20, 2011. Last updated: November 23, 2023 at 10:52 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.