Brisket: The versatile cut
"Brisket is the Zelig of the food world," says Joan Nathan, the Jewish-American cooking authority and author. "It takes on the flavor of whatever goes with it."

A "mountain" of onions and a bit of tomato flavor the brisket made by Joyce Goldstein, the San Francisco-based chef and author of "Tapas: Sensational Small Plates From Spain." But she notes some cooks are gussying the beef up with dried onion soup mix, chili sauce, honey, cranberry sauce, even Coca-Cola.

"So much stuff," she exclaimed. "And, so many liquids! Brisket can be so juicy, maybe they're cooking with horrible, dry meat."

A more elegant approach is achieved in the two versions here, which take inspiration and flavor from two different cuisines: Mexican and Persian.

Mexican brisket

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Note: Mexican spicing gives a twist to brisket in this recipe from Jamie Geller's "Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes." If you like, add pieces of zucchini or carrots to the pan during the last 40 minutes of cooking.

2 tablespoons each: packed dark brown sugar; dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon each: garlic powder, ground cumin, dried coriander, salt
1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder
1 beef brisket, about 2 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup beef broth

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together brown sugar, mustard, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, salt and chili powder in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over the meat.

2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the brisket; cook to brown one side, about 3 minutes. Turn, brown other side, about 3 minutes. Add broth to pan; cover. Cook to desired tenderness, 1 hour, 20 minutes to 2 hours. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with pan juices.

Nutrition information: