My Mother’s Brisket

By on Monday, April 18th, 2011

God help anyone who chops up their brisket. Or anyone who adds apples, raisins or any of the myriad abominations that ruin a hunk of perfectly good meat. It’s not that I dislike these ingredients. When it comes to brisket, I am a purist because I was lucky enough to grow up eating the best brisket in the world: My mother’s. She set an exceptionally high bar with her brisket, and anything that deviates from this standard is suspect, probably unfairly so, in my opinion.

Obviously, I’m biased. Maybe every Jewish kid thinks their mother’s brisket is the best in the world. My mother’s brisket actually is.

Maybe every Jewish kid thinks their mother’s brisket is the best in the world. My mother’s brisket actually is.

It’s a vaguely triangle-shaped piece of meat that emerges from the oven wafting tendrils of cloves and garlic. Bite into a slice, cut the long way against the grain, the slightly sweet tartness of tomatoes hits your palate at the same moment as the earthy thyme. When I was visiting home from college, this is the one dish I always requested. Then I would ask my mom to make me another brisket to take back with me, carefully tucking the foil-wrapped hunk in my messenger bag. Fortunately, it tastes almost as good when it’s reheated or when it’s left cold and sliced onto bread.

It’s a simple brisket. A few vegetables are cooked in the same dish. Otherwise, it’s nothing but meat and spice, which is as it should be. The drippings are excellent and should not be wasted. Pour them over mashed potatoes or soak them up with bread.

Here is my mother’s brisket recipe, but if it doesn’t come out as brilliantly as promised, it’s not your fault. It’s probably because you’re not my mother.

Written by Elina Shatkin

Elina Shatkin is West Coast editor for Toque as well as restaurant critic and staff writer for LA Weekly. Shatkin was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times and has written for a variety of publications in print and online. She's the co-founder of the incipient food blog Guzzle & Nosh.

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