Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Brisket, Baby!

Many years ago, I volunteered to cook a brisket for the end-of-the-year pony club party.  I'd never cooked a brisket before, but studying the thick, squat, fatty piece of tough beef convinced me that the only thing to do was marinate the holy heck out of it, then roast it a long time in a slow oven.

It turned out fabulous: brisket of the Gods.  The pony clubbers slurped up every scrap, Moms asked me for the recipe, and I have it on good authority that my brisket is now renowned among Bristol's Jewish community.  Needless to say, my brisket has become a pony club tradition.

Tuesday I went to Food City, our local grocery, where I had always purchased my brisket before.  Nary a brisket in sight.  (They did have smallish corned beef briskets, which are totally not the same.) I asked at the butcher counter if I could order a brisket.  Imagine my consternation when they told me no.  "We can't get brisket anymore," the man said.  "We've tried, and we can't get it."

Huh.  I drove across town to Kroger's.  No briskets.  Furthermore, the woman at Kroger's meat counter said, not only could I not order them, but, "They don't make brisket anymore."  Apparently farmers now grow special cows consisting only of steaks, hamburger, and stir-fry.

I was annoyed and disappointed.  I was proud of my brisket.  I knew I could buy a ham, but it seemed a shame to lay a great tradition to rest.  So I did what I always do in times of trouble:  I complained to everyone I knew.

And this is why people complain: because it pays off.  "Wal-Mart had briskets yesterday," a friend said.  "I think Sam's Club has them, too."

I stopped at WalMart yesterday evening and there indeed found brisket.  It was a little like Remembrances of Things Past.  As I was wheeling my cart, containing only brisket, black beans, and a bag of rice (don't ask), a man stopped me and said, "Excuse me, but where did you find that brisket?"