Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - being just past, it’s an opportune time to reflect upon the nature of Holidays and Food.

Eating is a basic component of human existence, and thus it is only natural that our Holy Days involve some change in the culinary routine, regardless of the Belief System by which we comport ourselves.

What would Christmas be without a ham or roast turkey? What would Easter be without a festive ham? What, for that matter, would Ramadan be without its own eating traditions - no food during daylight hours, and a blow-out feast at month-end?

Closer to home, what would Passover be without matzoh ball soup? Or Chanukah without those delightful fried goodies, potato latkes and sufganiyot (Israeli jelly doughnuts)?

Even Yom Kippur, the observance of which includes a 25-hour fast, has food traditions. Ya gotta eat both before and afterwards, and every family has its own traditions. We’ve got a friend who always has a nice big bottle of Crown Royal handy at the closing Yom Kippur services. As soon as that last shofar blast is sounded, out come the shot glasses.

For us, the major Jewish holidays are an excuse to have a classic Ashkenazic (Eastern European) Food Blowout. Chicken soup, gefilte fish, braised brisket, Russian chicken, the works. All the stuff Grandma used to make, and which we little kids never fully appreciated until we got older. Afterwards, there is much groaning and farting...but nobody is hungry. For days.

This year, one of the Traditional Favorites we enjoyed was a beef brisket, prepared Lil Pachter style. The recipe may be found here. Herewith a step-by-step Illustrated Guide:

The seasoned brisket, ready to sear in a hot skillet.

Searing the meat.

I sear the brisket in a medium-hot skillet for about eight minutes on a side.

The brisket, after searing on both sides.

Smothered with onions, tomatoes, and garlic; ready to braise.

Four hours later.

Here’s the brisket after four hours of braising at 350°F.

Allow the meat to rest at least ten minutes before slicing. Slice it against the grain at a bias, then smother with the sauce, which by now has reduced to a yummy, oniony mess. Enjoy!

The finished product.

Now, that’s the way to start the year off right!

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