Shana Tov! It's the Jewish New Year! I'm a practicing culinary Jew, meaning I spend more time connecting with my Jewish roots in the kitchen than the synagogue. As a result I tend to do more recipe searching than soul searching during the High Holidays (bad for my place in Olam Ha-Ba, good for my dinner guests).
This Rosh Hashanah was my first in New York, and I had the good fortune to spend a few hours at my Temple: Zabar's. The only reason to kvetsh about this gourmet specialty store is the lines. Otherwise it's a destination shop for any serious foodie. A diverse variety of prepared items includes all those needed to design a meal like bubbe used to make – challah bread, stuffed cabbage, blintzes, matzoh ball soup, knishes and a smoked fish counter fit for King Solomon. I picked up some fresh rugelach, delicious cookies made with a cream cheese dough, to entice my gentile roommate into joining my Jewish dinner. I also bought some gefilte fish balls, poached ground fish served in a jelly broth, to test her faith.
Low on time and money, I decided to make a simple but delicious dish of braised brisket. Luckily, you don't have to be one of the Chosen People to enjoy this satisfying meal. It's one of those G-d like miracles of cooking: throw ingredients in a pot, cook it for a few hours in the oven and out comes tender meat and a sumptuous sauce, tasting like hours of effort. And as an added bonus, your house will smell divine.
My mitzva of this holiday is thus completed:
He'Brew Braised Brisket
3 lb 1st cut brisket
3 white onions, cut in 1/2 inch slices
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 bottle He'Brew brand beer, like Genesis Ale* (you can substitute, but Yahwheh won't like it)
4 large portobello mushrooms, dark gills scraped away and caps 1/4 inch sliced
2 tbs butter
scant 1/4 cup flour
- Preheat the oven to 325 F
- Season brisket with salt and pepper
- Place onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf in Dutch oven or other heavy baking pan. Place brisket on top, fat side up. Pour the broth and beer into the mix.
- Cover the pot tightly with tinfoil, and then place the lid over. Cook brisket in the oven until the meat is fork tender, about 3 1/2 – 4 hours.
- Relax, enjoy the aroma, do the crossword! Unless you're a shlimazel, the brisket will cook itself.
- Check the meat at the 3 hr mark, and add the mushrooms when the brisket is about 30 min from being done.
- When the meat is tender, remove from the pot and let rest, covered. Strain the sauce into a separate pot, and return vegetables to the original cooking vessel.
- Make a brown roux to thicken the sauce – melt butter in a pot, then add flour. Cook until the mixture is brown and smells faintly nutty. Slowly add the cooking juices to the roux, whisking until thickened. Season to taste.
- Slice the brisket into thin cuts, and add to the pot with the vegetables. Pour the sauce over the top, and you're ready for a Jewish feast!
The brisket is even better when made the day ahead and then reheated for serving.
Accompaniments should include a starch, like potato kugel, kasha varnishkes or egg noodles to soak up the wonderful sauce
* He'Brew beer is available at certain stores. For local listing check their website.