also commonly called potato pancakes, are prepared by
frying grated potato and onions.
all a matter of cause and effect.
cause is that in 164 BC, a group of Jews led by Judah
Maccabee captured the former Jewish Temple in Jerusalem,
which had been turned into a pagan shrine by brutal King
effect is that Jews today eat latkes for Hanukkah.
ó potato pancakes ó are a delicious reminder of the
Hanukkah story. The story is that when the Jewish warriors
made their way into the desecrated Temple, they found only
enough oil to light the eternal flame for one day.
the flame miraculously burned for the eight full days that
were needed to secure more oil. And this miracle, which is
now at the center of the Hanukkah celebration, is
commemorated by eating food fried in oil, specifically
makes sense. Any excuse to eat latkes is a good one, and an
oil-based miracle is better than most.
lot of Jews also eat brisket on Hanukkah and, to be fair,
most other religious holidays. Why is there a tradition of
eating celebratory brisket?
done a fair amount of research into this very question, and
I have uncovered what appears to be the two main reasons for
the holiday tradition:
American Jews trace their families back to Eastern Europe
where, as a people, they were generally quite poor. As is
the case with all poor communities, they could not afford to
eat the best, most tender, cuts of meat. So they ate what
they could, the tougher meats that needed to cook at low
temperatures for hours before they could be served. Shanks
and chuck roasts were popular, and so was the marvelously
is particularly suited to being cooked with a wide variety
of ingredients because, although it has a distinctive flavor
of its own, it also easily absorbs the taste of the other
ingredients in the pot. You can cook it in a tomato sauce or
in beer, in a sweet-and-sour sauce or even with sauerkraut.
You can use it in Korean barbecue or turn it into a
Scandinavian soup using Akvavit, a liquor flavored with
caraway or anise.
way you make it, it is going to be good. The collagen and
fat that are marbled throughout the cut slowly melt in long,
low cooking, and they flavor and moisten the meat and give
it its richness.
our Hanukkah meal, we have a traditional entree and a
traditional starch. All we need is a traditional vegetable
there really isnít one for Hanukkah. (The eight-day
holiday begins Tuesday night.) So I decided to make tzimmes,
a dish of sweet, stewed root vegetables and dried fruit
often served at Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) but suitable
for any meal in the fall and winter. Like brisket, tzimmes
was especially popular in the Old Country, whichever old
country in Eastern Europe that happened to be. And also like
brisket, there are as many different ways to make it as
there people who cook it.
decided to go with a stove-top version, because my oven
would be taken up with a brisket.
makes this tzimmes so delicious is the mixture in which it
is cooked. Orange juice, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon and
chicken stock give a luscious sweetness to the already
sweet-but-earthy root vegetables, in this case carrots,
sweet potatoes and parsnips. The whole thing is then topped
with dried cranberries and prunes and cooked until perfectly
donít like prunes, you say? Try them in tzimmes.
Seriously, try them.
brisket is cooked in much the same way as the tzimmes, in
liquid at a low temperature for a long time. The liquid in
this case is primarily red wine, but it also benefits from a
can of tomatoes. More onions than you would think go into
the mix as well, along with celery and, eventually, carrots.
A dash of thyme, a smidgen of rosemary and a bay leaf are
also added to the pot, which gently simmers for 3 1/2 hours
until the flavors are beautifully melded and the meat is so
tender you can cut it with a table knife.
brings us to the latkes. I am picky about my potato pancakes
ó I like them crispy, with only a little onion mixed in
and virtually nothing else, other than a hint of nutmeg. I
have always thought that people who pollute their potato
pancakes with baking powder are thinking too literally about
the word "pancakes." All I need, besides the
potato, onion, and hint of nutmeg are an egg or two and a
light sprinkling of flour to hold it together while it
latkes that result are nothing short of a Hanukkah miracle.
TOO WELL STEWED BRISKET
ground black pepper
(5-pound) brisket of beef, shoulder roast of beef, chuck
roast or end of steak
clove garlic, peeled
tablespoon vegetable oil
onions, peeled and diced
(14-ounce) can tomatoes
stalks celery with the leaves, chopped
teaspoon dried thyme
teaspoon dried rosemary
cup chopped parsley
pound carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
The original English-Yiddish name of this dish is Not Too
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle the salt and
pepper to taste over the brisket and rub with the garlic. In
a large skillet or pan, heat the oil over medium high and
sear the brisket on both sides. Put the onions in a large
Dutch oven or casserole and place the brisket on top of
them, fat-side up. Cover with the tomatoes, red wine,
celery, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary.
Cover and bake about 3 hours, basting often with the pan
parsley and carrots and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes
more, or until carrots are cooked and meat is fork-tender
(when you put a fork in the meat and pull it out, there
should be a light pull on the fork as you remove it).
This dish is best when it is prepared a day ahead of time
and refrigerated, so the fat can easily be skimmed from the
surface. When ready to serve, remove the layer of fat from
the top and replace in the pot with the side that had been
covered by the fat facing down. Spoon some gravy over the
top and reheat over medium heat or in the oven at 350
degrees until the meat is heated through, about 30 minutes.
serving: 641 calories; 43 g fat; 16 g saturated fat; 152 mg
cholesterol; 43 g protein; 9 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 2 g
fiber; 615 mg sodium; 46 mg calcium.
adapted from a recipe originally by Joan Nathan and
reprinted in "The Brisket Book" by Stephanie
sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
ounces dried cranberries
cup brown sugar
teaspoon black pepper
cups chicken broth or salted water
ounces pitted prunes (2 1/2 cups)
together sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots in the bottom
of a large, heavy pot. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.
a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together orange juice,
honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and black pepper. Pour
mixture over fruit and vegetables in the pot.
chicken broth or salted water. Heat pot over medium high
until it begins to simmer, stirring once. Reduce heat to a
gentle but constant simmer, and cover the pot.
After 45 minutes, gently stir again. Place pitted prunes on
top of the other ingredients and replace the cover.
Cook on lowest heat for 15 minutes until sweet potato pieces
are tender and prunes have warmed and softened. Avoid
overcooking, which will cause the prunes to dissolve.
serving: 367 calories; 1 g fat; no saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 3 g protein; 92 g carbohydrate; 64 g sugar; 7 g
fiber; 523 mg sodium; 65 mg calcium.
from a recipe by Tori Avey.
russet potatoes, unpeeled
tablespoons onion, minced
large wedge lemon
eggs, lightly beaten
tablespoons all-purpose flour
oil (not olive)
Grate the potatoes, using the small holes of a grater. Place
the gratings in several layers of paper towels and squeeze
out as much liquid as you can (it is easiest to do this in 2
batches, and it makes cleaning easier if you do it over a
sink). Unwrap the potato gratings and place them in a medium
bowl. Add the onion, squeeze the lemon over the top and mix
thoroughly. Add the eggs, flour and nutmeg, and stir to mix
Pour oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Heat
the oil over medium-high heat until it is very hot; the oil
is ready when a little bit of the potato mixture instantly
sizzles when you drop it in. Pour in enough of the potato
mixture to make 1 or 2 (4-inch) pancakes; do not make more
than 2 at a time. Flatten the potatoes in the pan with a
spatula and fry a few minutes until the bottom is golden
brown. Flip pancakes and cook until the other sides are
golden brown. Remove, drain on paper towels sprinkle with
plenty of salt.
desired, serve with apple sauce or sour cream.
serving: 200 calories; 7 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 74 mg
cholesterol; 6 g protein; 30 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; 2 g
fiber; 36 mg sodium; 33 mg calcium.
by Daniel Neman