“The Brisket Book”: Everything You’re Not Sure You Wanted to Know About Brisket and More

“A Jewish food is one that is almost sanctified, either by it’s repeated use or the use within the holiday or rituals.” – The Brisket Book

The lowly cut, raised to new heights

Stephanie Pierson doesn’t just love brisket. As Woody Allen would say she lrrrrrrvs it.

She loves brisket so much it takes her almost 17 pages of clever brisket pontification in her new cookbook, “The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes,” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 10/2011), before we get a glimpse of our very first recipe. And yet it’s a vegetarian recipe using seiten (picture quizzical expression here). By the way seiten is like mock duck. I had to look it up.

My friend Amy is a vegetarian 99% of the time. The other 1% she’s eating brisket. So powerful is brisket’s allure.

So traditional to the Jewish table. Discussion of the best family brisket recipe has been known to incite tableside rioting.

Believe me, I love brisket too. I was Kansas City born and raised on slow smoked brisket from local BBQ joints and my mom’s family recipe.

Don’t get me wrong. The Brisket Book is a cute book with more schtick than a Catskill comedian. And on page 90 we get our first real recipe! By now we  know everything there is to know about the lowly brisket. It’s history. It’s location on the cow (sorry to my vegetarian friends). How to buy it. How to cook it. How to cut it. Tools. And rubs. And brines. And we’ve even been treated to a shot of man’s naked butt!

There are some way crazy brisket recipes in this book. Mostly from professional chefs. Andreas Viestad’s Aquivit Brisket. Joan Nathan’s tahini brisket. John Shield’s brisket with tangy peaches. Even some traditional Jewish recipes employing humdingers like sliced jellied cranberry sauce. And of course the meticulously researched and tested food perfection musings of Cook Illustrated’s Kris Kimbell.

But now it’s time to get cookin’!

I did enjoy reading the recipes and looking for one that I could cook given my limitations at the time. Firstly, it was Yom Kippur and I wanted to make something that would cook all day while I was at Temple and be ready when I got home. Secondly, my oven is broken so I was going to have to use a crockpot (we put it on the deck so the smell wouldn’t tempt our fasting family). And lastly I didn’t want to sort through a lot of ingredients first thing in the morning before cooking the brisket.

So I picked “Slow Cooker Brisket” (recipe to follow). I’ve cooked a lot of briskets in my time from the smoker to the grill to oven. Watch me cook a different brisket recipe here

I have to say this is one of the best versions I’ve done. It turned out perfectly! I recommend it. But can I recommend this book? Well, it was a fun read. For a while. Lots of lists. Lots of instruction. And lots of good lookin’ shots of sliced up meat. Yummm. And a whole pile of pretty decent looking recipes. If my brisket was any indication of the results you’ll get from the rest of the recipes in “The Brisket Book,” than trot down to Amazon.com and pick up a copy, already.

“Slow Cooker Brisket” page 97 from The Brisket Book:

6 oz beer
1 envelope onion soup mix
12 ounces chili sauce, such as Heinz
1 (4lb) brisket, trimmed

In a slow cooker with a minimum 3 ½ quart capacity, combine the beer, soup mix, and chili sauce. Add the brisket and coat with the sauce. (Note that in the smaller models, the meat may not lie flat.) Cover the cooker and cook on low until the brisket is fork tender, 8 to 10 hours.

Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and slice against the grain. If the sauce needs to be thickened or intensified, reduce in a pan on the stove before serving the brisket.