Pennsylvania puts on a massive, jaw-dropping Farm Show every January. Half the fun is getting there. It notoriously snows tons during the week, adding drama outdoors to all the spectacular goings-on indoors within the nine or so buildings.
Once you’re inside the sprawling place, you do three things:
1. Go find your favorite event to watch or be amazed by—from draft-horse hitching competitions, to angel-food cake contests, to the square dance parade, to the 1,000-pound butter sculpture.
2. Eat. Baked potatoes, steak salads, grilled portobello sandwiches, honey ice cream, cider slushies, shoofly pie, lamb stew, of course chicken corn soup. I can’t get myself stopped.
3. Bump into everybody you’ve ever known.
We unexpectedly got a little backstage preview of the Farm Show extravaganza a few days ago. We were meeting with a photographer friend of ours about an upcoming book we’ll be publishing, called An Amish Garden. It will feature a year in the life of several Amish vegetable gardens—and we were planning the extensive photography for the book.
This was a heavy-duty session that was going to run straight through lunch-time. “I’ll bring in some of my parents’ barbecue,” Jeremy, the photographer, suggested. This was no small offer. Jeremy’s dad and mom regularly win Grand Championships in statewide barbecue competitions.
Then Jeremy mentioned incidentally, “They’ve just made 6,000 pounds of barbecued beef brisket for the Farm Show. I’ll get some of that. You choose the go-alongs!”
I gotta tell you, this beef left us all speechless. Work while we ate? What had we been thinking? This succulent, savory meat piled onto potato rolls, demanded every ounce of our attention.
Then, ironically, we went back to planning our vegetable garden book! Still licking our fingers.
This stunning brisket reminded me of a recipe I love to serve to guests or take to family get-togethers:
from Lancaster County Cookbook, page 88
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Roasting Time: 6 hours
Makes 8-10 servings
3-4-lb. beef chuck, or similar, roast, ideally about 1½” thick
1 medium onion, diced
10¾-oz. can cream of mushroom soup*
½ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
*if you prefer to make your own cream sauce, clink on this link: Homemade Cream Sauce
1. Place roast in roast pan.
2. Cover and bake at 450 degrees for 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients and beat with a whisk until smooth. Pour over roast.
4. Cover. Bake at 250 degrees for 4 more hours.
5. Cut roast into serving pieces and serve with sauce. Or shred with two forks and mix into sauce, then pile into sandwich rolls and serve.
Tip: I’ve discovered that if you want to double this recipe, you get the best results if you duplicate the recipe above in a second roaster. If you simply double everything and roast it all together, you won’t get the same deep-down flavor and lovely caramelized finish on the meat.