If your Passover seder looks anything like mine, brisket will be in attendance. Right there next to gefilte fish and matzo, the tender, stringy meat is a standard. Bold and reliable, it feeds a crowd and keeps them happy. But why, why is it so ubiquitous? Gefilte fish, matzo, charoset all have obvious symbolism, but brisket’s is harder to pin down. A (very light) research session led me to believe that brisket persists mainly due to that most reliable Jewish tenet—tradition. Because most of the Jews in the U.S. are of Ashkenazi, or Eastern European, descent, brisket is likely a memory of the old country, carried over to today for the sake of convenience and consistency. Sephardic Jewish tables, by contrast, might feature sweet and succulent legs of lamb or roasted whole fish stuffed with herbs. Mine, and many others, will feature brisket and, hey, that’s not such a bad thing. The cut of meat is endlessly versatile and reveals its best personality after a long, slow simmer. Here are five very different preparations to get you going:
Soft & Luscious
Now, cooking meat in milk is the furthest thing from kosher, but that doesn’t mean this recipe isn’t worth a shot (diet permitting). The unique braise gives the meat an absurdly silky texture.
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.