When the best recipe is no recipe

In a fit of compulsion, I lined up my Passover brisket recipes side by side this afternoon. My friend Rachel’s Betty Crockerstein-ish ketchup-and-Kosher-onion-soup-mix version went head to head with some Irish fusion beer-braised version (did I already say I’m only very slightly Jewish?), and I debated.

In the end, I didn’t use a recipe. And for once, I didn’t write down what I did as I went along–I took the path of freedom, so to speak. Yes, I used real onions and garlic instead of powdered. Yes, I used mustard (Dijon, not yellow) and ketchup. No, I did not use Manischewitz. And yes, it was delicious.

What I also used, and what I believe is essential in every kitchen, is a common Jewish household cooking ingredient called instinct. Though I can’t speak a lick of Hebrew, my mother taught me how to use it well. Thanks, Mumz–some people never do get that ingredient, and are forced to choose between two recipes that aren’t quite right.

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