Author Stephanie Pierson loves brisket so much that she wrote a love story about it. She loves it so much that she even included a photo of a man cooking brisket, clad in nothing but an apron. (The chapter is appropriately entitled, “Amorous Brisket.”) Her book, The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes, is a 224-page ode to that cut of meat that corned beef comes from. Technically, brisket is from the front portion of the cow situated between the front legs. It’s a large cut that doesn’t take well to being cooked in smaller portions, so it’s ideal for large groups or a series of long-term leftovers. Brisket is great for barbeque, fajitas, corned beef, and not just the canned kind, either.
This is a fun book that pokes fun at itself and brisket. It’s peppered with laugh-aloud quotes: “Some foods will improve your meal, your mood, your day, your buttered noodles. Brisket will improve your life.” It’s sprinkled with peculiar photos – ever seen a brisket birthday cake complete with candles? And there are enough cartoons, sketches, photos of briskets and chuckle-worthy road signs to prove Pierson’s love for this cut of meat. I’m even treated to a brisket translation, or how to order brisket in Swedish, Russian, and Greek!
Unbridled love notwithstanding, the author manages to make a cohesive whole out of all those stringy bits of meat. She begins with the three most common ways to cook brisket (braise, barbeque, and corned); how it’s butchered; and why it needs to be cooked low and slow. There are interviews with butchers, food science authorities, chefs, and pit masters (those who have won awards in barbeque contests), getting their views on every issue from sourcing to cooking to eating.
Admittedly, the first few chapters that trace brisket’s history and popularity all the way to the beefy nitty-gritty, make my eyes glaze over. It doesn’t help either that some of the photos are inconsistent in quality, evidence of the book’s numerous photo contributors. Still, the author’s lighthearted writing style is amusing, and the book offers much comic relief. My recommendation: read it like a comic book and pass over the sections that don’t interest you.
Naturally, all this reading about brisket makes me hungry, so thank goodness for the recipes. Apparently, brisket lovers are quick to declare that their recipe is the best brisket recipe (ever!) so the selection is vast. Recipes are given names like “My Former Best Friend’s Ex-Mother-In-Law’s Brisket” and “Barbecue Beef Brisket That Doesn’t Suck.” Some recipes have brief ingredient lists while others are “tainted” with cranberry jelly, Lipton Onion Soup mix, pineapple juice, and even black tea. Like the book, the recipes are a hodgepodge, from straightforward to strange.
Now that I sufficiently know more about brisket than I may ever need to know, the last chapters bid me farewell with Brisket’s Many Sides: onion rings, mac & cheese, and stuffed baked potatoes are just some of the tasty suggestions. There are even suggestions on what to drink with brisket and what to do with all that brisket once I’m fed up with it.
My rating: ★★★/5
The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes
By Stephanie Pierson
Hardcover, 224 pages, Andrews McMeel Publishing
P1,199.00 at all Fully Booked Stores .
This book is part of my Lori’s Book Picks for March. Click image on the sidebar for a discount.
See my other book reviews here.