Brisket Secrets: There’s a 2am Visit to the Oven

Stefanie and I were talking about Passover and family traditions. She wanted to know what to bring the hosts when you’re invited to a seder. This can be tricky, Kosher for Passover wine is always a good idea as is Kosher for Passover Coca Cola (yellow cap on a two liter bottle), or flowers for the table. White flowers would be traditional in my family.

Then Stefanie went on to tell me that her friend gets up at 2am to make her brisket. Which is when my jaw dropped and I was like, “I must know why! What’s her email? Who is this superwoman?”

I must confess that I was also in awe that anyone could make a brisket taste good without it being in a smoker or smothered in BBQ sauce (not traditional for a Pesach table) so I emailed Jacqui Biery, pescatarian and brisket maker extraordinaire to ask her a few questions.

Stef said you get up at 2am to make your brisket – why? The temperature must be extremely low!

I have two Brisket recipes. The first is my interpretation of Ina Gartner’s Brisket with carrots and onions recipe and the second one is a Japanese inspired sort of teriyaki brisket that I kind of made up when I had a Japanese/California Shabbat dinner a few years ago.

After many years of cooking brisket a friend shared her secret to making a perfect brisket and I do it for both recipes. I put the brisket in the oven when I go to bed. I cook the brisket at 300 degrees for about 20-30 minutes per pound. Then I wake up in the middle of night and turn the oven off, leaving the brisket in until morning. Since the oven is airtight and the brisket gets tender as the oven cools down.

Who handed your recipes down to you?

I am a pescatarian. I don’t eat meat. But my husband and four children do. I love traditions and even more so during the Jewish holidays. I grew up with my mom, aunt, and bubbie cooking a brisket with Lipton onion soup mix, Campbell’s soup “Golden mushroom” and a can of water. I did it a few times, but I like to cook with fresh ingredients. So many years ago I started experimenting with different recipes until my family decided on their favorites. Now we have our own brisket traditions.

How many people are coming for Seder this year?

This year we have been invited to a friends for Passover. I am not cooking the brisket. So it is likely that I will have a Paseach dinner on Shabbat, which will likely be around 20 people, because we always have guests over when we prepare a Shabbat dinner.

Who helps you cook?

My youngest daughter Ilana is ten and she loves to help me cook. She does most of the washing, chopping, and mixing.

What do you do with leftover brisket?

In my house, everyone looks forward to lunch the next day. During Passover, they will eat brisket with matzo, but during the rest of the year it is a brisket on challah sandwich.

Why do people hate brisket (me!) unless it’s been smoked?

I don’t eat meat myself, so I don’t really know. But I remember growing up and brisket seemed like a tough meat. I think cooking the brisket at 300 and then leaving it in the oven at a low heat for a few extra hours, leaves the brisket tender and moist. I know this because of how it slices and of course my family and friends. Perhaps it is the smoke flavor and slower process that make the smoked brisket taste better.

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