Dr. Vicki’s Recipe For Papa Lewis’s World Famous Brisket

My recent trip to Chicago with the North Iowa Bloggers commemorated my sixth visit to the city. Visiting Chicago always makes me think of a May Term course I enrolled in during my sophomore year at Wartburg College that focused on Jewish history and culture. Unlike real life, students at Wartburg got to choose one intensive course to take during the month of May. Due to their laid back nature and travel opportunities, May term courses often had a reputation for being fun. On-campus courses often lasted for half a day which left students plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine or party.

This particular class was taught by a woman named Vicki who converted to Judaism upon marriage. Of all of the classes I took at Wartburg, this was one of my most favorites. I have fond memories of Dr. Vicki teaching us how to bake hamantaschen and cook latkes in her home. No shortcuts were taken. We pulverized whole dates in her blender and grated potatoes by hand. Afterwards, we built a Sukkot in her back yard.

Another highlight of the trip was traveling to Chicago. We visited a holocaust museum, temples, homes, schools, and a kosher bagel bakery where we met the Rabbi who oversaw the operation. At many of these places, people shared challah with us. I was fascinated with this glossy, braided bread that I had never tasted it before and still have yet to find challah as good as what I remember.

Closer to graduation, Dr. Vicki facilitated a small Seder meal celebration in our living room and shared the most delicious beef brisket. This brisket was so tender, silky and flavorful that my former roommate who I had never witnessed eating red meat in all four years enjoyed a serving. Years later, I find myself longing for a taste of this beef brisket. Fortunately, I saved an email from Dr. Vicki that includes the brisket recipe and rejoiced upon its retrieval. She is gracious enough to allow me to share this recipe on my blog.

Papa Lewis’s World Famous Brisket
Courtesy of Dr. Vicki Edelnant who adapted Elyse and Randy Frapart’s recipe
4.5-6 lb trimmed brisket
Olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt
1 head of minced garlic
1 onion
3 Bay leaves
1 packet of Lipton onion soup mix

1. Place a 4 1/2 – 6 lbs trimmed brisket in a large frying pan with a small amount of olive oil. Sear the brisket all over. It should take at least 20 minutes. The more you sear the better it is.
2. Now place the brisket in a large Pyrex dish with the fat side up. Salt and pepper all over. Be generous with both. Next press another generous amount of garlic all over the top, bottom and inside. The hardest part is done.

3. Now with the fat side up spread a thin coat of honey, then a thin coat of tomato ketchup.

4. Next place 3 bay leaves.

5. Then sprinkle 1 package of Lipton onion soup mix and the next-to-last ingredient that goes on the brisket is to finely cut up an onion and place on top about 1/4 inch thick.

6. Lastly pour about 1/2 of inch dry red wine in the dish. Tightly cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

7. Place into 350 degree on bake for 1 1/2 hour, then reduce the heat to 300 for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Total cooking time of 4 – 4 1/2 hours. Scrape the ingredients off the top of the brisket in to the liquid. This is your gravy. Slice on cutting board.


  1. Anonymous

    It looks just perfect to me. I’m delighted you have fond memories of the class. I know Cousins Randy and Elyse will be honored that you contributed to making Papa Lewis’s recipe truly world famous! Dr. Vicki

  2. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids

    This looks delicious and simple at the same time. Sounds like an interesting class!

    • Jeni

      Thanks Val. I can’t wait to check out your newest ice cream tour blog post!

  3. Beth Ann Chiles

    I can almost smell it roasting and taste it from here. Yum. What a wonderful experience that was and to have a professor who opened up home and heart to students makes me smile. We should have more of that happening!!!! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful memory and recipe!

    • Jeni

      She is really fantastic and such a generous person.

  4. Kristin G

    Yay for May term! One of the best parts of Wartburg in my opinion. I loved all my May term classes.

    • Jeni

      Yay for fellow Iowa blogger Wartburgers:) Which ones did you take? I loved all of mine too.

      • Kristin G

        I’m a teacher so I took two different education ones. During one I visited the New York City schools. I also took a history course called Postwar World. The final one was a political science class called American Legislature and Judiciary. We spent 10 days in Washington DC for that one. You?

  5. Donna Hup

    This looks delicious! I love learning about different traditions and have participated in a few seders myself 🙂

  6. Betsy

    Oh heavens. This looks absolutely delicious!!! Thank you for sharing! I love Wartburg!

    • Jeni

      You will love it:)

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