Ugh Failure

I’m not observing the High Holy Days—I know, I know—but I did think yesterday would be an appropriate time to cook my first brisket. In my memory, it was a frequent feature of Friday night dinner (we didn’t call it shabbos, as my father’s a devout atheist) at my grandparents’ house. There always seemed to be a lot of fuss, technique, timing and luck involved in a good brisket. But after making grating potatoes and onions by hand to make a mean batch of latkes for Chanukkah last year, I was feeling frankly a little cocky. Just throw the thing in the slow cooker, right?

I rolled out of bed and went to the slightly fancy grocery store (not to be confused with the cheap grocery store or the gross grocery store, my other two local options), was disappointed by the lack of fresh butchery, grabbed a vacuum-sealed corned beef brisket and went on my way.

Did you catch that? Because I didn’t. It was corned beef brisket.

I sliced potatoes to line the bottom of the slowcooker, diced up some onions, put a little seasoning on the meat, added some red wine and beef stock, and set it on low heat for eight hours. When I got home about seven and a half hours later, it was still alarmingly pink, so I turned up the heat. My mom and grandmother happened to call, and I bragged that I was making brisket. “Did you use Lipton’s French onion soup mix?” my mom asked. Nope. “I use ketchup,” my grandmother said. None of that either.

Even full-cooked, it’s bright pink. It’s also stringy and very salty, but it’s edible. A told me it was good, and he’s not one to lie. So I guess not a total failure. But briskets (of the noncorned variety) be warned: I’ll be back. With a vengeance.

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