September 17, 2009
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, begins tomorrow at sun down. Truth be told, the ChowPapa and I aren’t big on celebrating either of our religion’s holy days, but we both we have a strong cultural identity that we hope to pass to our children. One simple, concrete way to do that, especially when they are young, is by celebrating cultural (which often overlaps with religious) holidays. It’s never very intense, but we enjoy taking the time to honor our cultures. And we especially enjoy making and eating festive foods with friends and family.
While brisket is often served at Rosh Hashanah, the holiday’s core culinary tradition revolves around honey, apples, fish (heads, to be specific), rice, spinach, tzimmes and round challah. (Read more about the symbolic meanings of these foods here.) But, again, we’re far from traditionalists. And we love any excuse to make a brisket, so that’s what we’ve got cooking for Saturday.
Much to the ChowPapa’s chagrin, I’m not the kind of cook who tends to make the same thing over and over. I’d much rather experiment. Except when it comes to brisket. Years ago, for Passover, I made the spicy version of Mark Bittman‘s Braised Beef Brisket. It’s perfect. Delicious. I want it again and again, and never change a thing about his recipe. I also find the leftovers perfect for BBQ sandwiches and Shepherd’s Pie, an easy and freezable dish that can be fed to kids as young as 10 months.
Spicy Braised Beef Brisket
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
(can be served to kids 10+ mos)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp organic sugar
2 tsp organic cumin
1 tsp organic ground black pepper
1/4 tsp organic cayenne (more if you like)
1/2 tsp organic ground coriander
2 tsp organic paprika
4 tbsp organic vegetable oil
1 whole organic beef brisket, about 5 lbs
salt & pepper to taste
2 c organic onions, chopped
3 tbsp organic tomato paste
1 tsp organic garlic, minced
3 c organic stock (I use chicken, but beef or vegetable will work, too)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (if you want to finish in the oven; this can also be cooked all the way through on stove top). In the meantime, heat a large dutch oven over medium-high for 2-3 minutes while you rub the meat with a mixture of salt, sugar, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, coriander and paprika. Add 2 tbsp oil to dutch oven and swirl to coat bottom. Add brisket and sear for about 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned all around. Season with salt and pepper, then set meat aside.
2. Wipe out dutch oven with paper towels and return to stove, over medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tbsp oil and, when hot, add onions. Saute until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, then stir in tomato paste and garlic. Return meat to pan, add stock and cover.
3. Cook over low heat or in the oven, turning meat about every 30 minutes, until tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When the meat is done, if the sauce seems too thin, boil the liquid down over high heat while meat rests. Scrape the bottom of the pan while the sauce thickens. Taste sauce—add salt and pepper if needed. Slice meat, return to sauce and serve.
Don’t forget! Use leftovers to make this easy and freezable Shepherd’s Pie.