The year is 1927. John Welles’ best friend, Claude Willoughby, has had a falling out with his father. John isn’t aware of the details yet, but he suspects J.D. Willoughby isn’t as charming as he would like everyone to believe.
Part of Claude’s punishment is to remain in Baltimore while the rest of his family returns to Kentucky for Christmas. He’s heartbroken. Only the support of his two best friends, John Welles and Sam Feldman, manage to lift his spirits.
Part of their suggestion for Claude’s untraditional holiday is to spend some time with both of them at their respective homes. Sam goes one step further and proposes an after-the-fact Hanukkah celebration including traditional Jewish dishes such as brisket.
I had the following recipe in mind when I wrote the above-mentioned scene in my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles. My family looks forward to eating brisket every Hanukkah. This recipe is perfect for celebrating any time of the year. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.
4 pounds beef brisket
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
½ white vinegar
2 onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the brisket and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the brisket until browned on all sides. Mix water, ketchup, vinegar, onions, garlic, brown sugar, and salt. Pour mixture over the brisket and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue simmering until tender, turning brisket occasionally, 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes. Check often after initial 2 hours and 30 minutes to keep from burning or drying out.
Remove the brisket and allow it to cool slightly before slicing the meat against the grain. Place slices of brisket in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or large platter, pour sauce on top, and serve. Cover any remaining brisket and refrigerate. Spoon off any excess fat and reheat before serving.