(A New) Honeymoon for Brisket

By Devra Ferst

Published October 05, 2011, issue of October 14, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When my father was in his 20s, he visited Sweden on a grand European tour. There he met a very distant relative, who insisted that he stay at her home. During his visit, she prepared brisket for dinner. With one whiff, my father recognized the aroma — precisely the same recipe his late grandmother prepared — and he was instantly transported to his grandmother’s apartment in Philadelphia.

More than any other food in the Jewish culinary canon, brisket is transformative, evoking memories of years gone by, according to Stephanie Pierson, the author of the new “The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes.”

Despite not tasting brisket until she was 25, Pierson has a love of the classic cut of meat that runs deep. ”When I had my first brisket, I thought I had died and gone to heaven — I couldn’t believe I had missed it my whole life,” she said.

Her book is part ode to the dish, part cookbook and part food history book. It’s peppered with quotes of devotion like: “I’ve heard the angels sing when I cut it,” which she found in a discussion thread on brisket on the Chowhound website. And cheeky quotes like this one from chef Daniel Boulud: “…braising is a good technique for newlyweds. It gives them plenty of time to pursue other things while their dinner cooks.”

Choosing which recipes to include in the first-ever book dedicated to brisket was not without its challenges. Pierson says that nine out of 10 people she asked for homemade brisket recipes boasted: “Do I have a brisket recipe for you!” However, after numerous rounds of testing, the book presents only a select 30 or so recipes.

While the book contains a few familiar classics (Heinz ketchup is an ingredient in one recipe), it also spans the multicultural spectrum. In the book, brisket gets barbecued by Kansas City BBQ experts, braised in stout, doused with tahini sauce, and made into a noodle soup with Korean chilies by noted chef Anita Lo. Pierson also takes her reader into the kitchens of Nach Waxman and Joan Nathan, the Jewish king and queen of brisket, to learn how to make their iconic recipes.

Along with such a wide variety of recipes, the book offers dishes that range in difficulty and complexity. As Pierson says: “Even a terrible cook can make a great braised brisket.” But, she adds, “Brisket is the hardest meat to barbecue.”

Even with numerous recipes to choose from, many cooks will likely stick to their own family recipes for holidays, Pierson says. Still, she offers a number of intriguing options to try, including her favorite, the Temple Emanue-El Brisket, which is made with cranberry sauce that creates a delicious caramelization on the dish.

So, when deciding which recipe to try, follow Pierson’s rules:

Brisket Rule No. 1: Make a lot.

Brisket Rule No. 2: Make more.

Devra Ferst is the editor of the Forward and Hazon blog, The Jew and the Carrot. Contact her at ferst@forward.com or follow her on twitter @devraferst


Temple Emanu-El Brisket

Serves 8 to 10

One 4- to 5-pound beef brisket
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths
Two 14-ounce cans jellied cranberry sauce, sliced

1) 
Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with the garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper taste. Tightly cover the brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days. When you’re ready to finish the dish, preheat the oven to 500°F.

2) 
Unwrap the brisket, place it in a roasting pan, and roast for 20 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the temperature to 350°F. Place the onions under and around the brisket, then cover the top of the meat with the cranberry sauce slices. Tightly cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and cook until fork tender, about three hours.

3) 
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the brisket to cool. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, trim the fat, then slice the meat against the grain to the desired thickness. Return the slices to the pan, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice, cover the pan with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

4) 
The next day, remove any congealed fat from the top of the sauce. Heat the brisket, covered, at 350°F for 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes until hot and the sauce has reduced a bit. Serve with the sauce.

From Roberta Greenberg, assistant to the rabbis at Temple Emanu-El in New York.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.