Brisket (Potential Trigger Warning for Vegans/Vegetarians)

My husband’s father was raised Jewish and my husband’s mother was raised Catholic. His mother’s ancestry is less than fully known but my husband is certain that his mother had an Italian side to her family and that the rest were possibly Czech or German or both. But regardless, on his father’s side they were Jews originating from Russia, Hungary and others from Germany (specifically Baden-Baden). My husband was given a Bar Mitzvah and raised as a Jew and his mother converted to Judaism until she and my husband’s father divorced.

When I met my husband he was actually an agnostic/atheist although he still associated with his Jewish heritage. His father had sent him The God Delusion to read and he’d taken it to heart.

However, I was and am a Christian. So, many deep discussions were started between us about God, spirituality and other related topics when we first started seeing each other.

After about a year of dating my husband (then boyfriend) decided he wanted to be a Christian too. The Christian faith made sense to him and he’s felt peace and a connection to God by being a Christian.

We’ve since considered becoming Catholic, although we are heavily undecided on the matter but far from contentiously so, thankfully. I’ve always been intensely drawn to Catholicism. In high school I borrowed my good friend and stand partner in Orchestra’s Catechism to read. On Christmas Eve my father would go to Midnight Mass with me at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Saint Paul, Minnesota. And, once I had a friend in college very appropriately named Kathleen, tell me something like, “I know you’ll be Catholic one day. I don’t even doubt it at all. I just know you will.” She lovingly referred to Pope John Paul II as “Papa” as some Catholics once did and I discovered that during a long discussion we had once when she almost convinced me to become a Catholic. On her advice I read Rome Sweet Home earnestly.

And, Kathleen may have in fact been right about me. I did baptize my son into the Catholic Church… But we’ll see. Maybe if I read enough Evelyn Waugh someday it’ll persuade me completely. Or I’ll just become an Episcopalian. A High Church Lutheran? My husband and I are theologically perplexed, but we know we’re Christians.

Anyway, it’s all extremely complicated.

Still, out of respect for my husband’s father’s family, their faith and the way my husband was raised I’ve made brisket more than once as well as challah. Once my husband and I even attempted making kugel together. It’s just food of course, but I like to think it’s one small way to honor his heritage. My husband also says the dishes I’ve prepared have been very tasty. His favorite is the challah. And we still light candles for Hanukkah and my husband says a prayer in Hebrew that he worries with sadness he’s saying incorrectly.

Last night I had a whim to make brisket.

Yes. This post is really all about brisket.

As I was exhausted last night and didn’t feel like prepping the meat I didn’t. Some brisket recipes suggest you spend many hours or days prepping the meat. Instead I let it sit in the refrigerator in a mixture of ketchup, homemade chicken broth, and chopped shallots and garlic cloves for about two and a half hours today. Then I added two chopped onions, salt and pepper and my wine substitute and roasted it at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 hours. It turned out well enough although I’d add carrots next time and I plan to braise the meat first and let it marinate a bit longer in the mixture as well. Here’s my recipe (I borrowed inspiration from this recipe this time):

Ingredients:

– 2 Tbsp. chopped shallots

– 5 chopped garlic cloves

– A cut of roughly 2 to 3 lbs.. boneless whole brisket

– 2 1/2 cups chicken broth

– One bottle of ketchup

– Concord grape juice

– 1/2 cup cane sugar

– 1 cup balsamic vinegar

– Four chopped medium size carrots

– 1 Tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. pepper

– Two onions chopped and sliced

Directions:

1. Chop garlic cloves and shallots and add them to a mixture of one bottle of ketchup and chicken broth and mix well. After braising the brisket in a skillet on a medium-high heat to seal in the juices, place meat in a container large enough to store both the liquid mixture and the meat. Pour the mixture over the brisket. Cover the container and store in your refrigerator for at least three hours, preferably 24 hours.

2. Preheat your oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit or the equivalent. Prepare your onions and carrots. Then place the meat in a roasting pan and pour the red mixture (used for marinating) over the meat. Combine the grape juice, sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Add the carrots and onions and then pour the grape juice mixture over everything. Add salt and pepper on top.

3. Put the lid on the roasting pan and place it in your oven. Roast for at least one hour per pound of meat and use a meat thermometer to check if the meat is cooked. Brisket should be cooked to between 165 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, as always, be careful to clean your workspace and hands after cooking raw meat.

I was tired enough to just eat my brisket with the onions alone for dinner this evening and it was lovely. But again, next time I’ll try adding carrots and perhaps I’ll also experiment more with meat slicing techniques. But this is only my third brisket.

Good luck.

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