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Recipe for Beef Brisket Roasted with Beer, Orange and Star Anise

Brisket is such a great cut of meat to cook with. Not only does it have a deep, rich flavor, but also a nice amount of fat, which keeps it moist during the long cooking it needs to become tender. To help it further, I roast the joint, which means it’s partially covered in liquid for most of the cooking, and that liquid makes a breathtaking sauce.

Do not throw away cooked vegetables with the brisket. They are full of flavor and deliciously soft when cooked. If you don’t like mushy vegetables, blend them with 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed canola oil to make a silky puree to serve with the beef. This method also works wonderfully with pork shoulder: simply replace the beer with cider.


Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour for the meat to come to room temperature

Cooking time: 4 hours 15 minutes




  • 1 piece of boneless and rolled breast (1.5-2kg)
  • 4 tablespoons light sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 2 onions, cut into quarters
  • 3 carrots cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 3 stalks of celery cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms, cut in half
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • Anise 4 stars
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 750 ml of light beer, type IPA
  • 3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme


  1. Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 230°C/220°C fan/gas mark 8. Place a deep casserole dish (large enough to hold the breast and vegetables) and heat it for 10 minutes.
  3. Season the brisket all over. Take the hot casserole dish out of the oven and add the oil. Carefully lower the beef into the casserole dish (the oil will spit) and turn it over to coat the meat well with oil.
  4. Return the casserole dish to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then take it out and give the breast a quarter turn. Return to the oven and repeat every 10 minutes until the breast is a dark brown color on all sides.
  5. Take out the casserole and add the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Return to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking, until the vegetables have taken on a little color.
  6. Take out the casserole dish again and lower the oven to 160°C/150°C fan/thermostat 3. Add the oranges, star anise, cinnamon, beer, tamari (or soya), bay leaves and the sprigs of thyme in the casserole dish.
  7. If necessary, top off with a little extra beer or water to ensure the brisket is at least two-thirds submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on the casserole dish.
  8. Bake for 2.5 to 3 hours until the breast is juicy and tender, checking from time to time during cooking that the liquor has not reduced too much and adding a little water if necessary. At the end of cooking, you should have around 5 cm of liquor in the casserole dish.
  9. Remove the beef from the pot and place it on a heated carving plate and set aside. Remove and discard the star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves and thyme sprigs from the liqueur. Squeeze the juice from the oranges with the back of a spoon, then remove and discard the skin. Taste the liquor and season accordingly, with salt and pepper.
  10. Remove the string from the brisket and cut the beef into slices. Serve with roasted vegetables and a ladle of cooking juices.

A note on the sauce

I don’t mind the liqueur being broth-like as long as it’s flavorful, but if you prefer a thicker sauce, simply pour some (or all) of the liqueur into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with a little cold water to make a smooth paste. Once the liquor is boiling, gradually add the cornstarch mixture until you obtain the desired consistency.

Recipe for River Cottage Great Roasts, by Gelf Alderson, published by Bloomsbury (£20)


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