Brisket is the Holy Grail of Jewish food. The slowly-cooked meat is tender and moist with caramelized edges that pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes or literally straight out of the pan. I had never experienced that many layers of flavor in a brisket until my friend’s mom prepared it for a dinner party a few years back and it was the centerpiece of the table.
But, according to Gil Marks’ Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the dish began as poverty cuisine. “The often-impoverished Jews of eastern Europe could rarely afford to ‘live high on the cow’ — to buy the more tender cuts from the rib and chuck. [So] they learned how to make do with the cheaper, less desirable parts,” he writes.
Over time as families continued to cook them for the holiday tables, brisket was made into a rich traditional staple. Oh, and Kosher too!