Mitchell grew up on brisket, the preferred pot roast for Ashkenazi Jews the world over. A full brisket cut from the kosher-able forequarter of the cow (the hindquarter, where you get loin and rump, is difficult to kosher due to the complex laws of kashrut) weighs upwards of 10 pounds. Perfect for a family affair, a cut this size will feed 12 or more, especially when paired with traditional Jewish sides like pan-fried potato pancakes, kasha, and noodle pudding. (From their absence on the Jewish table you'd think green vegetables were difficult to kosher as well.) In his new book about Jewish food, Rhapsody in Schmaltz, Talmudic scholar and humorist Michael Wex reminds us that until Texans started smoking it, brisket was "a pariah cut dear only to those who had no other choice." And yet, with enough onions, garlic, tomato products, seasonings, and cooking liquid—which, occasionally, might have included a can of Coke—Mitchell's mother could make a brisket that her children considered as toothsome as filet mignon.