There's No Such Thing As Too Much Brisket for Hanukkah
My father made an excellent Hanukkah brisket, a recipe cribbed from a food-stained cookbook that I never learned the name of. He made latkes, too, the potato pancakes most often associated with the holiday. But it was his brisket, I think, of which he was most proud. Brisket is the type of food that unites, in good times and in bad, and maybe that's why my father was so fond of it.
When the holidays arrive, many Jewish people in America celebrate with a dinner like the one I grew up eating. This meat, which is traditionally braised, sliced and plated in a pool of sauce upon the best china, sets the backdrop for the gathering.
A brisket, by nature, is the perfect entertaining food. It's a large-format meal with plenty to spare, an opportunity to extend the gift of welcome, to feed a crowd. Most briskets range in size from 10 to 20 pounds, and even when you buy a smaller piece, you're bound to have leftovers.
It feels triumphant to shop for the larger cut this year, as opposed to the one that will feed just two or four. The reward lies in knowing that friends and family are together again, in the festive, slightly chaotic way that holidays always tend to go. And those leftovers are part of the experience.
The very idea of them, I like to think, is the consequence of having dreamed a little too big, of having made sure that, when the last candle expires, every person is fed—and fed well. When the guests have all gone, what remains is not only the stacked dishes and the wine-stained tablecloth. It's the brisket that will carry on, a marching soldier in its culinary efficiency, to the next meal. It is enough for everyone. It is more than enough. That was always the point.
Below, you'll find two brisket recipes—one braised and the other grill-smoked—that will make more than you'll likely need for a single meal. Then there are four additional recipes that transform any leftovers into entirely different meals, worthy of entertaining again. It's too much, you might think on first glance, but really, in the spirit of the holidays, it's just enough.
Braised Brisket with Tomatoes & Onions
Grill-Smoked Barbecue Brisket
Smoked Brisket & Bok Choy Noodle Soup
Brisket, Potato & Leek Kugel
Smothered Potato Latkes
Smoked Brisket Tacos
Hannah Selinger is a food and lifestyle writer based in New York. Find her on Instagram @druishamericanprincess.
This article originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine, December 2021.
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