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    8 People
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Family Story

I cook dinner most nights and normally my menu plan is heavy on the vegetables, whole grains and--no red meat. But on Passover, I make brisket. Every year. When my son, Max, was fifteen he asked me if I could get “Arlene’s recipe and make brisket for Passover.” When he was nine he had eaten ‘Arlene’s brisket’ at her Seder and apparently, he never forgot it. Arlene is my oldest and best friend. She knows my kids starting with their amnio photos, and when I called and told her Max asked for her brisket recipe, she actually teared up. Max wasn’t so interested in the “service stuff,” as he calls the Haggadah, but he was interested in the brisket, and when he and his sister, Molly, together asked the classic Passover question, “why is this night different from all other nights,” for him, I’m sure the answer was, because tonight we are having brisket! A few years later when Molly was bat mitzvahed, I listened as she sang the prayer, L’ Dor Va Dor. It means “from generation to generation,” and refers to the passing down of the Torah. I love this prayer, both the melody and the meaning, and I wondered, “how do I, who can neither read nor speak Hebrew, pass down my Jewishness to my children?” And then, I thought of brisket. And of women handing down recipes across ages and continents. Recipes scrawled in black pencil on a scrap of butcher paper, or neatly printed in blue ball point pen on a crisp index card. Women reaching out from Polish shtetls and New York’s lower East Side tenements, to my mother’s kitchen in the midwestern town on the Missouri River where I grew up, to my own house now in Los Angeles. It’s not Torah, but it is tradition. L’dor va dor, from generation to generation. Thank you my dear friend for the connections and the brisket.


1 Step

Heat the oil in a large roasting pot. Sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes, then add the meat and brown it on both sides. Now add the water and brown sugar. If you like to cook with wine, use half wine and half water. Put some extra brown sugar on the top of the meat. Simmer, covered, on top of the stove over low heat for about 2 hours. Add the apricots, prunes, carrots and potatoes. Continue simmering for 2-3 more hours. Add more water if needed. Cool completely. Remove brisket and the potatoes from the pot (if you didn’t use prunes with the pits removed to begin with, they will have removed themselves and collected at the bottom of the pot. Remove them now. A small strainer or a slotted spoon should do the trick.) Blend the remaining juices and fruit and onions. An imersion blender is easiest. Get your biggest knife and trim off a lot of the fat and then slice the meat across the grain. Place slices in a shallow baking pan with 2- 3 inch sides. Pour blended juices over the slices. Add a little water if you need to thin it out. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Do all this the day before you want to serve. Reheat in a low oven (about 300 degrees) for a few minutes or a few hours before time to serve. This will serve 6-10 people, (depending on how many 15 year old boys are eating with you). You should have enough left for lunch on a piece of matzo the next day. Note: The measures are suggestions, everything can be adjusted up or down to fit your particular needs and preferences. I usually have more than 10 people for Seder and therefore I get a brisket that’s 10-12 lbs. and increase the other ingredients accordingly. It’s a huge piece of meat and you need a very big pan, even then you’ll probably need to cut into two pieces.


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