The first time I tried brisket, it was many years ago at a family friend’s house. The gentleman sitting next to me—someone I knew not in the least — caught me biting my fingernails, leaned over, and into my ear whispered “Just wait ’till you try the brisket.” And wait I did, red-cheeked and all, until finally I had my first mouthful, and immediately turned to tell the man that he was right. In between chews, barely able to open my mouth, I exclaimed: “Brisket is good!”
Not too long after, I tried another brisket, this one shelled in a layer of fat and deeply browned on its extremes. It too was absolutely delicious, and so again I couldn’t resist the urge to say it out loud. Over the years, it’s seemed to happen each and every time I try a new take on the classic cut. Dry-cured pastrami, thin-sliced corned beef, Texas-style barbecued—you name it. They’ve all floored me.
So when I learned that fellow brisket enthusiast Jimmy Carbone of NYC’s Jimmy’s No. 43 was hosting a cook-off to celebrate the versatile beef, I couldn’t help but dream up what some of NYC’s most experienced meat lovers would enter into the contest.