Sacramental Food


Yes, it's a brisket–halfway through the requisite two days of slow cooking. And as the saying goes, two Jews, three brisket recipes!

Some people make their brisket sweet, with dried plums and apricots; others use beer, mustard or (gasp!) Lipton's onion soup mix for a savory brisket. My aunt Kiki makes hers with short ribs in the roasting pan along with the brisket.  I make it savory, just like my mom taught me, which is a hybrid combination of recipes from each of my grandmothers.  And I have great memories of cold brisket sandwiches on challah with (another gasp) mayonnaise the day after any big family holiday meal. 

Why is brisket considered standard Jewish culinary fare? To answer this question, I pulled out my food-stained copy of The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. 

I was delighted to learn that cooking the meal overnight (as I do with the brisket) has its origins in kosher dietary laws which specify which cuts of meat (turns out it's the tougher parts) are permitted and how they are to be kashered (made kosher) and tenderized. Furthermore, I also learned that the long, slow overnight cooking practice is actually referred to in the Talmud! 

How are we like a brisket? Tough at times, sometimes we have to cook long and slow before we become tender.