Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rosh Hashana Dinner: Brisket and Noodle Kugel

Yesterday was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year celebration. My parents have an amazing kitchen, so the kids love to come together and cook elaborate meals, and this holiday was a perfect opportunity to do so.

Our menu
Emeril's (Passover) Brisket
Salad with honeyed pinenuts

Green beans
Challah
Noodle Kugel
Molten Chocolate Cakes with Peanut Butter Filling


My mother made brisket, a popular Rosh Hashana dish. I have no idea why this dish is so connected to Jewish holidays, but it's also a Hannukah and Passover staple. I love the ultra-tender and flavorful meat, so I'm not complaining.

The boyfriend and I both had seconds (yes, even non-Jewish Italian boys love a good brisket!), and the leftovers were amazing for lunch the next day. This recipe is just so delicious with a wonderful combination of sweet and savory flavors. It is cooked for such a long time, that you can cut it with a fork. In fact, my mother ended up making two briskets for dinner because the first literally broke into pieces and she wanted one she could slice into, too.

Emeril's Brisket

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 pound brisket
  • Garlic cloves
  • 1 quart beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Emeril's Original Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Using a paring knife and your finger, stuff brisket all over with garlic. Place brisket in a baking dish or casserole and bake until browned on top, remove from oven, turn brisket and return to oven until browned on both sides. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Add enough beef stock to casserole to come up 1 inch on sides, cover with foil and bake one hour.

While brisket is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and saute onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Remove brisket from oven after one hour and add caramelized onions and all remaining ingredients, moving meat around to combine ingredients. Cover and continue to bake until very tender but not falling apart, another 2 to 3 hours. Remove brisket to a carving board and slice. Strain reserved cooking liquids and pour over sliced brisket. Brisket may be returned to casserole dish and allowed to cool, then served the next day. (Reheated in oven.)

Brisket is better if made a day in advance.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from New New Orleans Cooking, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Little sister made the noodle kugel, another traditional Jewish dish. For those who've never tried it, it's a sweet and rich noodle side dish, combining ingredients like egg noodles, eggs, sugar and raisins. She used this recipe from Epicurious. This version was less eggy and a bit lighter than many other variations, which was appreciated in an otherwise quite hearty meal. We only had regular raisins on hand, but it was fine with those in place of golden raisins.

She also contributed a salad with honeyed pine nut clusters. The pine nuts and honey provided both sweetness and crunch to the somewhat bitter greens. They were a unique replacement for boring croutons and something that would go well in a variety of salads. Recipe to come for that, too.
I was in charge of dessert, and I prepared the molten chocolate cake I detailed yesterday. Honey cake is a more traditional Rosh Hashana dish, but I've never had it, and it sounded a bit bland to me. My grandfather was a baker, so getting a compliment from him on my baking was a big compliment.

With all the stresses of the economy and world events, it's comforting to have a cause for celebration with family and the hope for a better year ahead. Happy New Year!

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