Now, after sampling briskets from coast to coast, Pierson is hard put to name a favorite. She loves the recipe offered by Bill Niman, of Niman Ranch fame, who bridges the braised-barbecue barrier with an oven-braised roast and a sauce created by Bo McSwine, owner of Lafayette's Bo's Barbecue. And Kimball's test kitchen version, she says, is perfection.
But Pierson will be accompanying next week's latkes with the version made by Roberta Greenberg, an assistant at New York City's Temple Emanu-El, where the brisket is so beloved, the rabbi keeps the recipe on the synagogue's website. It includes just seven ingredients - including the brisket, salt and pepper. It's not a difficult recipe, by any means, but it needs to be started three days before the big feast. And it's the jellied cranberry sauce - yes, from a can - that's the trick.
"It caramelizes into this intense lovely sweetness, braced with onions," Pierson says.
Anyone's bubbe would approve.
Go for the fat: Brisket comes in two cuts, first cut - which is flat - and brisket point, also known as second cut. If the recipe doesn't specify, use whichever you prefer, but make sure it has some fat on it to ensure a moist brisket.
Slice across the grain: Devotees may argue the pros and cons of thick vs. thin sliced, but they all agree on one thing: Cutting it across the grain makes for a tender, toothsome meal. Cutting with the grain is a recipe for tough and stringy.
Make it ahead: Brisket tastes better made a day ahead, refrigerated in its own gravy or juices, and then reheated.
TEMPLE EMANU-EL BRISKET
Note: This recipe is a favorite at New York City's Temple Emanu-El.
4-5 pound beef brisket
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths
2 14-ounce cans jellied cranberry sauce, sliced
1. Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Tightly cover the brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.
2. When you're ready to finish the dish, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
3. Unwrap the brisket, place it in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees. Place the onions under and around the brisket, then cover the top of the meat with the cranberry sauce slices. Tightly cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and cook until fork-tender, about 3 hours.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the brisket to cool. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, trim the fat, then slice the meat against the grain to the desired thickness. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice, cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
5. The next day, remove any congealed fat from the top of the sauce. Heat the brisket, covered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then, uncovered, for another 20-30 minutes, until hot and the sauce has reduced a bit. Serve with the sauce.
- "The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes" by Stephanie Pierson (Andrews McMeel, 208 pages, $29.99)
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