I don't know why anyone thought the world needed an entire book about brisket, dripping with anecdotes, theories, recipes and memories.
Brisket is, after all, a very simple matter.
Just use my recipe.
Four pounds of brisket from the supermarket --- the less you spend, the better. On a burner turned up fairly high, brown the beef in a Le Creuset 5 1/2 Quart Round French Oven. Add a bottle of red wine. Two large chopped onions. Three or four diced carrots, celery stalks, tomatoes. A tablespoon or two of tomato paste. One or two crushed garlic cloves. Salt and pepper. Set in a 350-degree oven for 3-4 hours, turning the brisket over once or twice and adding water, as necessary.
Ah. Just like Mama used to make.
Here's the problem: Your mother used another recipe.
And as someone wise has said of brisket, "With most foods, there's a right way and a wrong way. With brisket, there's only my way."
There were so many "my ways" --- including her way --- that Stephanie Pierson wrote "The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes." It turns out to be a really excellent book, or should I say, a very tasty book.(There is only one clinker in these pages: a chapter about wines that are good partners with brisket. Unnecessary. There is only one. It's called Diet Coke.)
Home cooking is the big idea here. ("Rarely has a truffle ever gone into the making of one," Pierson writes.) And slow cooking. ("Time and the brisket are friends.) And love. ("I say: a brisket in every pot, in every Crock-Pot, on every Weber, in every barbeque joint, on every Passover platter, in every deli, at every butcher, in every food truck, on every TV food show, food site, food blog.")
Brisket's the ultimate comfort food. Which means many people want to comment. Butchers. Restaurateurs. Experts ("As you cook, two important things happen. Collagen breaks down and forms gelatin, while muscle fibers tighten up and squeeze out moisture into your cooking liquid, flavoring it.")
The heart of the book, of course, is the recipes. Some are eye-popping. Lipton dry onion soup mix? Oh, dear. And, from the assistant to the rabbis at New York's Temple Emanu-el, a recipe calling for two cans of jellied cranberry sauce. And this woman calls herself a Jew!
Brisket with ginger, orange peel and tomato. With tangy peaches. With Korean chile. A brisket burger. Barbequed. And many more worth trying. Yum. Eat these words.