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How to make cocoa BBQ brisket

Cocoa BBQ brisket with mashed potatoes on a white plate
Photo by Shari Pennington

This recipe pairs well with a Sauvignon Blanc and appears in Un-Wine’d, which airs Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. on VPM PBS.

Watch past seasons and current episodes on the PBS app or PBS website. Check the broadcast schedule for local listings. To discover more recipes seen on Un-Wine’d, please click here.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 lb Brisket, well trimmed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ c. flour
  • 2 T. olive Oil
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 Sprigs fresh thyme (1/2 t. to ¾ t. fresh leaves)
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 T. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic
  • 4 T. double concentrate tomato paste or a 6 ounce can of standard tomato paste
  • 3 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 to 1 ¼ c. beef stock
  • 1 to 1 ¼ c. dry red wine


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Step 2: Sprinkle the brisket all over with salt and pepper. Roll in the flour to completely cover.

Step 3: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil and melt the butter. Sear the brisket in the fat on all sides.

Step 4: While searing, set up a casserole pan that just fits the brisket with a double layer of aluminum foil, large enough to cover the brisket and crimp well to hold in the moisture and heat.

Step 5: Place the brisket, fat side up, in the foil-lined pan. Mix together the remaining ingredients in a food processor forming a paste to spread on the brisket.

Step 6: Cover the top of the brisket with and paste pour at least 1 c. each of the stock and wine down the sides on the corners so as not to rinse off the paste. Add the additional stock and wine if needed.

You need enough liquid to come about halfway up the meat.

Step 7: Wrap the brisket tightly and bake for 3 ½ hours.

Step 8: Remove from the oven and allow the brisket to rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes.

Step 9: Move to a cutting board and rest an additional 15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6