We had a quiet Easter this last Sunday, which is probably just as well, as beloved was recovering from a bad cold and I was struggling with coming down with a cold. And, I still don’t really have my cooking mojo back.
In trying to develop a menu, I remembered that we had a (relatively small, at just over four pounds) beef brisket in the freezer. After some thought, I decided to give a nod to Passover by making a brisket and, after some Googling, a Potato Kugel to go along with it. I mean, I’ve never eaten kugel before, much less made it, but whenever has that stopped me? I decided to round the meal out with green beans almondine: I purchased fresh French green beans in a microwaveable package (to steam them); once steamed, I tossed with a bit of butter, sprinkle of salt, sprinkle of pepper, and toasted almond slivers. Easy but special enough for a holiday.
Oh, and of course, I made some deviled eggs.
This menu also would be easy to adjust for more servings if the kids and grands would be joining us; if they came, I would increase the volume of the sides; if they didn’t, we could have leftover brisket for several days and just a few more servings of the sides. (We are never wholly certain when we’ll see them for holidays or not, so I try to keep somewhat adjustable menus in mind.)
I have my take on a Jewish-style Spiced Beef Brisket, and it’s very yummy, but the rich, spicy flavors of it put me more in mind of fall and winter than spring. However, there is a brisket recipe that I’ve long wanted to try. I first heard about it when watching a Lidia Bastianich holiday special several years ago wherein she — and her grandchildren, it was very sweet — visited different families to partake in their cultural holiday traditions. One of the families they joined was a Jewish family for one of the nights of Hanukkah, and a woman — whose name escapes me, but who I believe is now known as an accomplished cook/chef — brought her mother’s brisket. She’d said her mother, ironically, was not known as a good cook, but that her brisket — which was brisket coated with a bottle of ketchup — always earned raves.
My intrigue for this type of recipe increased when, upon Googling “Passover Brisket,” while I came across a variety of brisket recipes, a simple one made with onion soup mix and ketchup (or chili sauce) popped up. With some additional Googling for “Passover side dishes,” I came across Potato Kugel, and decided to make it as a side.
NOTE: To be Kosher for Passover, foods consumed must be free of chametz (any one or more of five types of grains) and foods containing yeast…more or less a gluten-free diet. I did not make efforts to make the brisket and kugel Kosher for Passover. If you want to make these foods Kosher, then 1) ensure all products used are designated Kosher and 2) for Passover, substitute the cornstarch used in the kugel with matzo meal, potato starch, or a similar Kosher for Passover option.
So, using this Pioneer Woman recipe as starting point, I decided to give Passover Brisket a try. Me being me, I opted to do half (no-sugar-added) ketchup and half chili sauce. I also added a splash of Worcestershire and some red wine. Other than trimming fat from the brisket (it was a flat-cut trimmed brisket, but there was still a rather significant fat cap on one side, which I trimmed away), it was an incredibly easy recipe to do, mostly hands-off, and because it cooks “low and slow,” it didn’t overheat the kitchen on a warm spring day. The chili sauce gives it a hint of heat, while the (no-sugar-added) ketchup gives it a bit of tang and hint of sweet.
As for the Potato Kugel: As with many classic dishes, there are a number of variations, from very basic versions with only a few ingredients to more complex ones that incorporate a variety of ingredients and seasonings. I opted to use Tori Avey’s recipe as a springboard. Because it was going to be just hubby and me, I made a relatively small kugel that I baked in a 1 1/2 quart (6 cup) casserole. Bonus: I baked it in my toaster oven, which meant I didn’t overheat my kitchen on a relatively warm spring day!
Potato Kugel requires peeled and grated potato and grated onion, which makes it a more labor-intensive dish, especially if you’re making a larger-sized batch. You can use a hand grater, the grating attachment on a food processor, or, as I did, use a “VeggettiPro” or other type of implement that can “spiralize” vegetables. While it was delicious made with onion, I think it would be even more fabulous made with leeks.
Hubby enjoyed it well enough to have it be a repeat, so I told him that whenever he gets a hankering for it, just ask for the “Passover Brisket.” 🙂
Whether you make it for a holiday or not, I promise you, it will be YUMMY!
Passover Brisket (Number of servings depend upon size of brisket; for a brisket more than 5 or so pounds, suggest you increase the amount of sauce accordingly)
- Beef brisket, trimmed of most fat (you want to leave a bit, but not too much)
- 1 bottle (12/13 ounces) ketchup (I used no-sugar-added ketchup)
- 1 bottle (12/13 ounces) chili sauce
- 1 package dry onion soup mix
- Splash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dry red wine (eye-ball it, I probably used a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of wine, you may use more or less as you wish)
- Mix together ketchup, chili sauce, dry onion soup mix, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour wine into empty ketchup and chili bottles, shake to release any remaining ketchup and sauce, and stir into ketchup/chili sauce/soup mixture.
- Place brisket in a 13″x9″ pan. Spread half of ketchup/chili sauce mixture over meat. turn meat and spread remaining mixture on other side of meat.
- Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
- Remove from refrigerator. Turn meat and ensure it is coated on all sides. Cover pan securely with foil.
- Bake at 275F (no need to preheat!), turning and basting half-way through, until fork-tender, approximately 6 to 7 hours. NOTE: Brisket, like ribs, can be unpredictable and can sometimes take much longer to bake than anticipated. Remember — it can be easy to keep it warm, but you can’t rush cooking it, so err on the side of caution as far as the amount of cooking time needed.
- Slice meat against grain (I sliced it in its baking dish) and serve with rendered sauce.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
Potato Kugel (Serves 5 as written, can be adjusted up or down, just adjust size of baking vessel accordingly)
- Five small to medium-sized potatoes (I didn’t weigh them, but it was probably around 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and grated or spiralized
- 1 small onion, grated or spiralized (NOTE: I think a leek would yummy, as well)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 – 3 tablespoons corn starch (I eye-balled it)
- Grate or spiralize potatoes, keeping them in a dish of iced-cold water as you go to prevent their discoloration.
- Grate or spiralize onion; set aside.
- Pour 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of oil (I used Canola oil) into casserole dish. Place dish in oven as it preheats to 400F.
- While oven is preheating, beat together two eggs. Drain potatoes in a colander and use paper towels or clean dish towels to squeeze water from them.
- In a medium-sized bowl, toss together potato, onion, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste. Pour in egg and toss potatoes and onion with eggs. Sprinkle in cornstarch and toss.
- Once oven is preheated and pan is hot, CAREFULLY remove hot pan from oven. Using a heat-proof brush, brush oil up along sides of pan.
- Give potato and onion mixture one final toss and pour/spread into hot pan.
- Brush another tablespoon or so of oil on to top of kugel.
- Bake until crispy on top (and hopefully on sides) and baked in the center, approximately 70 to 90 minutes (things tend to take a bit longer in my toaster oven). NOTE: If it’s browning too quickly, cover top with foil. If it is baked all the way through but not browned on top, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes to brown the top.
- Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
Like “That Smells Yummy!” on FaceBook for more fun!