Winter is Coming (Learn How to Make a Brisket Already)

Years behind the initial bandwagon, I’ve finally given in to Game of Thrones.

Attempts to manipulate my way away from the show (by luring my boyfriend into Twin Peaks instead) have finally unraveled. I’m too engrossed by Peter Dinklage’s wit, too mesmerized by the (still appealing) greasiness of Kit Harrington’s curls and too eager to see someone smack the smirk off of Lena Headey’s perfect face to quit now. In other words, I’m just like everybody else.

I didn’t think I could be so drawn to something that oozed “period piece” or medieval-fantasy-core. I could do without the robes and the royal bloodlines and arranged marriages. I fooled no one.

Most of the time, it’s best to embrace the tastes that live inside of us – the ones that get as excited for an hour’s worth of new Kardashian antics as they do for stimulating conversation about Dave Eggers’ memoir style. It also means coming to terms with the fact that you were plain wrong to even try to resist an HBO drama because, after all, time is a flat circle and you should’ve known better.

Certain tastes stay latent, some by nature and others by force – e.g., never knowing you were the type of person who took pleasure in the brussels sprout until a post-adolescent stroke of fate, or finally accepting that, in order to make the best fajitas, you have to feel up some raw bird with bare hands.

Another spirit that lives inside of me is the cranky Jewish girl (or maybe older lady.) The one who pops out to put brute force into wringing the moisture out of grated potato to ensure perfectly crispy latkes (and complain about prune hands later). The one who literally throws her arms up in the middle of Jewel-Osco because how can they only have one variety of rice!?

I tapped into that inner soul recently to complete what is considered by Talmud scholars the ultimate rite of passage for any Nice Jewish Girl: roasting a brisket.


Within the Judaic culture, brisket is the benchmark. The infallible truth test. Realistically, much more intimidating than preparing to join the Night’s Watch.

Like most things (choosing new TV shows included) the anticipation and pre-event internal protest was more severe than the actual act would warrant. The brisket making process felt very natural, very right. No matter how hard I try to eat more vegetable-based proteins and take an interest in niche cleansing drinks like kombucha, the little woman inside just wants meat and potatoes and an apartment that absorbs the smell of both.

Makes ~4 servings. In true brisket style, a family recipe.

1 medium beef brisket (figure about 1 lb per person)
1 (12 oz.) can of Coke
1 package dry onion soup mix (or 1 small can of French onion soup)
1 bottle chili sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans of small, whole potatoes
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, roughly chopped

This is by no means a Wednesday night, throw-it-on-the-table bonanza. Set aside a Sunday afternoon. Get some laundry done. Have a new issue of Elle handy.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Low & slow.

In a roasting pan (a disposable one because, let’s be honest, your sink is too damn small to be washing roasting pans in), place the brisket fat side up. Combine the Coke, chili sauce and soup mix in a large bowl with around 1/2 cup of water (if you’re using a can of soup, you can skip the water.) This will smell better than you’d ever think soda, soup and a Heinz mixture could smell.

Pour the liquid marinade over the brisket. Arrange the onion and carrot all around the beef, and get it in the oven.

Ready? Get your iPhone alarm out:

Altogether, this should roast for 3.5-4 hours.

  • Baste it every 30 minutes (and yes, this is worth investing in a baster for.)
  • After the first 2 hours, add the potatoes to the pan and stir to coat with sauce.
  • For the last 30 minutes, flip the brisket fat side down and baste.

After roasting is up, move the meat to a cutting board and give it a few minutes to cool before slicing. Serve with goblets of that pan sauce.


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