I don't know how, why, or when Jews started making brisket for holiday meals, but it's one ritualized aspect of the Jewish culinary tradition I wholeheartedly embrace. My friend Arthur Schwartz has written many, many wonderful cookbooks, including Jewish Home Cooking.
Arthur set out in a wonderfully obsessive way to come up with the definitive, most seriously delicious potted brisket recipe. He experimented with cooking first cut and whole briskets, using liquid and not using liquid, and here's what he eventually came up with. Over on his website Food Maven, he shares all of the great and gory brisket experiment details. And what better way to top off a belly full of beef than with two delicious cakes? Here's Arthur's brisket recipe, plus two of his favorite cakes.