Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Magical Powers of Brisket

In the midst of a hard and demoralizing day, I found myself sprinting down the isles of Whole Foods, trying to pick up a few things before launching back into an afternoon of work.  I was a woman on a mission with no time for dawdling.  But before I knew what was happening, I was captivated by a powerfully delicious aroma.  A smell that could only come from one source-- MEAT.

I never stop at the Whole Foods Meat counter, believing it to be wildly expensive, and preferring the local meat market around the corner from my house.  But on this day, I was lured by a smell so intoxicating that I believe there must have been some magical force at work. This powerful smell turned out to be brisket festering under a heat-lamp.  Normally, this is the kind of thing I try to avoid.  In my opinion, there is nothing magical about food kept warm for excessive periods of time under a blisteringly hot artificial light source.

I'm also not usually a fan of red meat.  Sure, I love the occasional bacon cheeseburger as much as the next carnivore, but truth be told, I could easily live my life without ever eating red meat again.  I've got nothing against it on moral grounds.  I do believe that it's better to choose to eat foods that are grown or raised in a responsible manner, including meat.  I just don't LONG for meat the way some people do.  I never have.  When I was single, I only cooked meat, especially "red meat", when I had company.  When I was a child, I used to pretend to be excited when my dad cooked steak on the grill.  I could see that everyone else considered it a special treat and I was embarrassed to admit that I didn't really care for it.  I didn't hate it.  I just didn't love it.

So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered I'd been stopped my tracks by-- what's that under the heat lamp?-- BRISKET?  Really?

I asked the butcher, "Are you sure I'm not smelling the ribs?  Maybe the pulled pork?"  I really do love pork.  "No", he assured me.  It was the brisket.  "Ok", I thought.  Whatever this smell was, I needed it.  Desperately.  Brisket it is.  Give me three slices-- enough for one meal.  I tossed the plastic container of brisket into my cart next to my usual "go-to" comfort food-- potato chips-- and finished my shopping.

By the time I got home the brisket was cold, so I put it on a soft roll and took a big bite of brisket sandwich.  Wait a minute.  This is no good.  It's not the same.  What's wrong?  Where's the magical smell?   It was gone.  I decided to heat up my sandwich to see if it improved the situation.  Twenty seconds in the microwave and WHAMMO.  The magical smell was back.  The brisket melted in my mouth and soothed my frazzled nerves in the process.  How did it work?  I don't know.  But a brisket sandwich with a side of potato chips has become my new cure-all.

I've never cooked brisket before, but if this is how it affects people, I think I need to learn how to do it.  If anyone out there has a great brisket recipe-- one with it's own magical powers-- send it on!  I'm ready to cook brisket!