Brisket is one of the toughest cuts of beef, but since it's also one of the most flavorful, it appeals to almost every member of the family. It's a simple dish to prepare and cook, requiring only a long marinating and baking time with an occasional check-up. Brisket is the perfect dish for busy, multitasking moms; after you place it in the oven, you have time to prepare your side dishes. Or, you can simply leave the beef to cook overnight. The temperature and size of the meat determine the cooking time, but an average time is about 1 1/2 hour per pound of meat.
Marinate the beef brisket before placing it in the oven. While not part of the baking time, you should take this time into consideration when planning for the meal. A typical marinade consists of an oil, spices and herbs and an acidic liquid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Cover the brisket in the chosen marinade and place in a large sealable plastic bag or in a non-reactive bowl made from ceramic or glass. Marinate for 24 hours before cooking. Remove the meat from the marinade, pat it dry, and cover the roast in a dry rub.
Heat the oven to 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the rack in the middle of the oven to let an even amount of heat spread around the cooking meat. Place the meat in a large roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil. Inserting such a large roast into the oven will initially bring down its temperature but will not impact the overall cooking time. The lower cooking temperature of 225 degrees increases the cooking time by several hours, and in a 275 degree oven, the brisket will cook faster. However, a longer cooking time at lower temperature results in a more tender brisket.
Roast the meat until it reaches an internal temperature between 185 to 195 degrees F. This is a better guide for cooking time rather than a set amount of hours. The high internal temperature ensures that the brisket becomes extremely tender, easily pierced with a fork. On average, it takes about 1 1/2 hours per pound, with most briskets between 5 to 7 pounds, resulting in a cook time between 7 1/2 to 10 1/2 hours.
Take the internal temperature from the thickest part of the meat, generally near the middle, as this will give the most accurate temperature. Choose a brisket with even marbling, and place it fat side-up in the roasting pan to allow the fat to drip into the meat as it cooks, keeping it moist. The brisket can also be cooked in a smoker or a barbecue on medium-low heat. The cook times are generally the same, as the temperature is the same. Be aware that the beef will continue to cook after it is removed from heat. It should also be tented with tinfoil, as with other roasts and steaks, after it is removed from the oven and allowed to rest for 10 to 20 minutes to let the juices redistribute.
Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.