Most foods popularly regarded as aphrodisiacs are simply characterized by a dirty-bird appearance and/or texture (asparagus and bananas, oysters and figs). It’s all lies, people, and more than a little gross. Feeding your “lover” vagina-like snacks is an unacceptable Valentine’s celebration. But going to a romantic restaurant, holding hands in the candlelight . . . that might be even more embarrassing.
This February 14th, stay home. Finally dig into your DVR back log of My Super Sweet Sixteen and Arrested Development episodes in your pajamas, and feed yourself something garlicky. Yes, that’s correct—the infamous breath—killer and most cherished flavor-giver is also an ancient aphrodisiac.
This is probably also a load of crap, but a more appealing one to those of us who like to eat and think Valentine’s Day is for dorks. In her classic book, Jewish Holiday Cookbook, Joan Nathan explains that a garlic-heavy brisket was traditionally thought to get the old dradle spinning.
One of the best things about brisket, aside from how unbelievably horny it will make you, is the price. The lean meat (best for braising, which is what you shall do) is $5.99 per pound at Staubitz Market and similar in most places.
You don’t need a recipe, just a plan:
Get a four-pound brisket—you will be happy to have leftovers.
When you get that baby home, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Make some shallow slits all over the meat and shove as much chopped garlic in as you can. Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt, black pepper, and paprika.
In a cast-iron skillet, or your heaviest pan, brown the meat well on both sides with a little olive oil over medium-high heat.
Put the brisket in a heavy pot-ideally, it should fit snugly.
Throw in a bunch of carrots, cut into a few big pieces each.
Pour in enough water, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, or any combination of those, to half-submerge the meat. If it starts to dry out during cooking, add more liquid.
(At this point, add whatever else you like: celery, onions, red wine, rosemary, bay leaves, etc.)
Cover the pot and put it in the oven, turning the meat over a few times in the next four hours, or until the brisket is tender and almost falling apart, but not starting to dry out.
When it’s done, be sure to let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice across the grain and serve (with wide egg noodles or some other starch).
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 8, 2005