I have always cooked brisket in a slow cooker, to beautiful effect, but I'm going to be cooking for a crowd this week, and a slow cooker won't be available to me. (not to mention I cannot fit this brisket into my tiny slow cooker!) Are there good rules of thumb on how to cook a brisket in the oven (I don't have a Dutch oven, either) to make sure it turns out delicious and tender?
Wrap it in foil, loosely, and roast in your oven at 250°F (121°C) until an internal temperature of 185°F (85°C), this should be about 1 1/2 hours per pound (but CHECK the internal temp with an instant read thermometer).
Note: an internal temp of 160°F (71°C) is "done" but for a tender slow cook brisket you want to let it go to 185°F (85°C)
By Dutch oven, I assume you mean a covered roaster suitable for stove top.
This is the technique taught to be by my old Jewish grandmother which long predates slow cookers. I use a covered enamel roasting pan but you can improvise with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Use 1 or 2 large onions cut in thick round slices. Lay on the bottom of the roaster. Place meat on top of the onions.
Put meat under the broiler until crust starts to form. This makes the taste richer.In all my various ovens over teh years, this part takes 6-8 minutes more or less. Flip the meat over and brown the underside.
Remove from oven.
Reduce oven heat to 275-300 F.
Add your moisture ingredients ( Traditional was dried onion soup packet and water or Campbell's Cream of Mushroom sauce with 1/2 can of water and some bottled American chile sauce or chile powder- just enough to make it red brick colored)
Place the top on the roaster or seal with aluminum foil so as little steam as possible escapes.
Place in oven for 1 hour.
After 1 hour or so, remove top/ foil, baste or flip the meat over , add more liquid if needed, reseal with the foil and return to the oven. Repeat at 30-45 minute intervals until the meat has been in the oven for 3-3 1/2 hours total.
You can tell it is done when you try to flip the meat over and it falls apart.
As long as the oven is set low, the actual temperature is not very important, but the lower the temp, the longer the cooking time. However, when cooking for 3 hours or so, there is not an appreciable difference. Just make sure there is moisture in the pan to keep the braise going.
Nanny Elsie added more sliced onions and the Knorr dried onion soup mix and water. Auntie Priscilla used the cream of mushroom soup and showed me the sliced onion base. Nana Jean used a large can of chopped or stewed tomatoes and added vegetable more akin to pot roast.
All used essentially the same technique and all were good, but when I make it the old fashioned way, I do Auntie Priscilla's version.