By Tatiana Pietrzak
When most Americans hear the word brisket, they immediately think of Texan smoked meat with barbeque sauce, “The National Dish of Texas.” And they wouldn’t be far from wrong. Brisket is a part of Southern history. However, it actually originated as Jewish cuisine. The Ashkenazi Jewish community started cooking brisket in Central and Eastern Europe. It was cooked at the celebrations of Rosh Hashanah, Passover, Hanukkah and Shabbat.
Cuts of Meat
The meat is Kosher, coming from the front of the animal, and is always beef or veal. Also, it is cut meat from the breast where there are no collar bones. Muscles support 60% of the body weight. This requires much connective tissue and so makes the meat tough. The cut is not a prime cut and so was cheaper for a long time. Poorer or economical families could afford this. They just had to marinate it for a long time and slow cook on low heat for many hours. Much basting needed to occur during these hours.
Ashkenazi Jewish refuges brought Shtetl cooking to America. There were areas the Jews had been banished from in Galicia, Lithuania, and Ukraine after townspeople and the Church grew hostile towards them. Shtetl cooking grew out of many countries the Jews were living in. So brisket is a mixture of Jewish, Eastern European, Germanic populations and poverty. After many struggles, Shtetl cooking is enjoyed by nations throughout the world.
Brisket Around the World
Germany braises brisket in dark beer (of course) and cooks it with celery, carrots, onions and thyme. This dish is also cooked all over Asia, New Zealand, Italy and Pakistan. And now it will be cooked in my home for friends with the recipe below:
Red Wine and Beef Broth to cover three quarters of the brisket.
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ Tbs. mustard
1 ½ Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. wine vinegar
1 Tbs. horseradish
1 teas. onion powder
1 teas garlic powder
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1-3 Tbs. liquid smoke
Match ingredients with size of brisket. This amount is for a 3 lb. slab
- Marinate defrosted brisket for 12 – 24 hours
- Sear 20 minutes per side
- Slow cook in marinade at 250֯ – 1 hour cooking per pound
- Cook fat side up so the fat will moisten the rest of the meats.