“We put forward the vision that at the Brandeis School of San Francisco, everyone sees themselves as a teacher of Jewish thought, values, and tradition…regardless of their background or position” -Brandeis 2023: Vision
Enough time has passed, we can finally talk about it. This Passover, I made my first brisket. And it was ok.
Having worked in kitchens throughout college and grad school, it shouldn’t have been so hard — it’s pretty simple, really — select a good (but not too good) cut of meat, add some choice spices and aromatics, and cook it slow and low for a while.
But there’s a weight — there’s a tradition. And you have to let it rest.
A quick look at popular media gives us a glimpse into the centrality of this Ashkenazic dish to American Jewish foodways — from the Coca-Cola braised brisket
of Midge Maisel, to the good ‘when served hot
’ work of Yvette Levy.
For the first Cole-Farrell brisket, I had to take a class. Two days before Passover Seder, I joined the Jewish Food Society’s
‘Brisket Workshop’ in a class taught by food historian Jane Ziegelman
and New York Times bestselling cookbook author Jake Cohen
. This class gave me exactly what I needed- it celebrated the cultural tradition of the dish, it contextualized the history of the brisket within the American Jewish experience, and it helped to demystify the alchemy and secrets behind all of that bubbie kitchen magic.
Leaving the workshop buoyed by confidence and armed with a can’t miss recipe for roasted tomato brisket
from Jake Cohen’s delightful Jew-ish
, I gathered ingredients and began the process for the day long cook.
The brisket simmered all day on Friday, cooling in the evening, before heading into the fridge before sundown. Like a proper Shabbos, the dish rested all day on Saturday, tucked away and cold-stewing in the vintage Le Creuset dutch oven that Mrs. CF scored years back at a second-hand shop (good work, Schatz!). That evening we brought it up to temperature, carefully sliced it across the grain, and laid it alongside a bed of grilled cabbage. It worked and I was relieved.
Some things are hard, some things are easy.
Sometimes the fear of something is harder than the thing itself.
We in the Brandeis community are all teachers of Jewish thought, values, and tradition. We carry forward the past, even if it is not our own, and tell the story of the Jewish people- past, present, and future.
Now eat something- you look skinny.