Cook | Brisket BBQ via Texas, with all the fixins

I’ve had Texas barbecue on the brain since I visited the state for a conference in July. On the way from Houston to Fort Worth, I drove by a synagogue, which got me thinking about the Jews of Texas.

How did they even get there in the first place? Between 1907 and 1914, philanthropist Jacob Schiff worked with Rabbi Henry Cohen to help East European immigrants settle in Texas. At the time, 10,000 Jews passed through the port city of Galveston.

Today, Texas is home to about 150,000 Jews. I imagine beautiful things have happened to brisket, influenced both by Texas barbecue and Jewish tradition. Inspired back home, I got creative with one of the best things about barbecue — the sides — thanks to nondairy Tofutti sour cream.


Texas-Inspired Brisket

Serves 10-12

1 Tbs. chile powder

1 Tbs. ground cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika

¼ tsp. white pepper

1½ tsp. salt

5-6 lbs. brisket

1 cup red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 Tbs. tomato paste

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup brown sugar

12 oz. dark beer

You’ll do most of your prep work for this the day before you serve it. Set brisket in a large, steep-sided roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine chile powder, cumin, smoked paprika, white pepper and salt. Rub all over brisket, coating both sides. Let brisket sit, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours. In a food processor, pulse together red onion, garlic, tomato paste, orange juice and brown sugar. Pour over top of spice-rubbed brisket. Pour the beer over brisket. Cover pan tightly in tin foil — really tightly, so it doesn’t release steam. Bake in 350-degree oven 3 to 3½ hours.

Let brisket cool. Remove from cooking liquid. Wrap meat tightly in foil and refrigerate. Pour cooking liquid into a sealable container and refrigerate. When cold, remove solidified fat from cooking liquid and discard. Preheat grill 40 minutes ahead of mealtime. Grill brisket 20-30 minutes over medium or low flame, turning a couple of times. Transfer to cutting board and let sit. Slice against the grain. Heat defatted cooking liquid and pour over sliced meat. Serve.


Parve “Creamed” Spinach

Serves 2-3

1½ Tbs. olive oil

½ cup red onion, diced

1 tsp. garlic, minced

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, slightly thawed

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cumin

â…› tsp. nutmeg

â…› tsp. celery salt

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

â…“ cup Tofutti sour cream

2 tsp. lemon juice

¼ tsp. sugar

Heat olive oil in skillet till hot but not smoking. Sauté onions and garlic for 1 minute. Break partially thawed spinach into pan and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Stir in salt, cumin, nutmeg, celery salt and pepper. Cook 3 more minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in Tofutti sour cream, lemon juice and sugar.


Parve Double Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Serves 2

2 russet baking potatoes

¼ cup Tofutti sour cream

2 Tbs. green onions, minced

1 Tbs. olive oil

Scant â…› tsp. smoked paprika

Scant ¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes for 50-60 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out potato insides, leaving a 1/8-inch rim in potato skin. Transfer scooped potato to a bowl and, using a fork, mash in Tofutti sour cream, green onions, olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and lemon juice. When uniformly mashed, transfer back into potato skins. Bake to reheat.

Josie A.G. Shapiro, who won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”