Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

April 7, 2013
Irene Saiger


Sheila’s Brisket

photo 2I just finished reading Russ & Daughters, a memoir written by Mark Russ Federman, now retired owner of my favorite appetizing store in NYC.  It made me think about Pesach which we spent with our children and family on the East Coast.  This year felt different, with everyone helping, all in their own way of course, there was a rhythm and ease that I had not felt before.  Some shopped, some cooked, some did prep work, some set, some supervised, and some even cleaned.  In his book Mark Federman  talked about family and how important it is to rely on them when you need them to step up, and how that not only requires the patience to teach, but the ability to let go.  Getting ready for Pesach is like running a small family business and I can only say that by the time I left, I felt that while they already knew exactly how to run a Seder, this time they learned what it takes to prepare for one.

My own memories of Pesach include scenes of my mother and Tanta Marisha, cooking together in my aunt’s kitchen. I loved watching them, it made it so much nicer that they had each had a kitchen companion, not to mention  just having another person to ask if the soup is too salty or help decide if you really need another kugel.

Over the course of two days leading up to Yontif, we prepared for 28 guests.  We had more kitchen companions than I can mention, but each one made a significant contribution, and although they were not technically all family members, they acted and felt like family.  I was thrilled to be a part of it, but the best part is knowing how well-prepared the next generation is to tell the story, carry on the traditions, and even make the brisket.  Letting go?  I guess next year Kitniyot may appear on the menu.  I look forward to finding out.

Sheila’s Brisket

Note: I changed this recipe slightly by adding a rub that I massaged into the brisket the day before cooking it, two days before the Seder.

1- 10 pound brisket, both first and second cut.


10 cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1 Tb paprika

2 Tb olive oil

Mix ingredients and “massage” into brisket.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5 large brown onions, thinly sliced.

2 cups good quality Cabernet

2 cups Ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place brisket in a large roasting pan and cover with sliced onions. Combine wine with ketchup and pour on top. Cover and bake at 325 till tender. About 6 hours.  Slice cold and reheat.  Served 20 when cut with an electric knife!




10 thoughts on “Sheila’s Brisket

  1. Sounds wonderful — the preparation, the seder, and the brisket. You and Norm have created such a rich family life — quite an accomplishment in these times. Remind me to give you a recipe for brisket (but not kosher for Passover). It has molasses!

  2. I loved reading your perspective on Pesach, cooking together, and thinking about the next generation and what their memories will be!

  3. looks amazing, at least we can eat and get drunk at the same time, love u

  4. Table looks great and I m sure the next generation is ready and able in their way to continue the importance of family and what ever is needed!!! That just means you have done an exceptional job in teaching!!! You go girl!!! Brisket sounds yummy but I already make brisket days prior also with onions and wine… I skip the rub part but bake with the onions etc for twenty minutes first on high!!!!!Seems Passover briskest are all the same with wine wine and then some!!!!

    Sent from my iPad

  5. After watching the movie about college friends’ reunion in New England, can’t remember the name of the movie, I always wanted a group of wonderful friends and family cooking, listening to wonderful music and even drinking a good glass of wine. The warmth of the relationship, the smells from the cooking as well as the conversation and laughter filling the house. That is what is what makes a wonderful memory and a yontiff an experience to repeat year after year. That is what you have created along with terrific recipes. Where ever the years take you all, I hope you continue to gather and create these long lasting memories.

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