Why are two shiksas writing about brisket for a collection about iconic Jewish foods? Because we are jealous. Jealous that we didn’t grow up with brisket—gloriously fatty, juicy, supple brisket. It’s the perfect braising beef; brisket is full of flavor, with a thick layer of fat that naturally bastes the meat as it cooks, making it impossible to ruin.
We WASPs were raised on pot roast, a parched cut that seems to beckon inexperienced cooks to boil it dry, and roast beef, which leaves every cook’s nerves frayed until the first slice reveals whether or not you succeeded in coaxing it to just the right pinkness. And you probably didn’t. WASPs love their unforgiving meats, just as they relish stony silences at the table.
Jews smartly embraced meats that like to actually be enjoyed. Brisket welcomes acids like vinegar and tomatoes, voraciously absorbs herbs and spices, and gets so tender you needn’t own a sharp knife to slice it. And it’s great for holidays and parties. You can cook it in advance, lay the slices in a serving dish, soaking in the cooking juices, and reheat it to serve. It’ll even be better this way. If you have leftovers, you’ll have the makings of an epic steak sandwich.
We’ll spare you our holiday tables, but can we join yours?
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are the co-founders of Food52.