BY WENDY SHAPIRO
Grandma Jennie’s Brisket
Like many women of her generation, my grandmother did not use very specific measurements or timing while cooking. This recipe follows what my own mother calls her mother’s “informal style.”
NOTE: This should be started about 24 hours BEFORE you plan to serve it so it has time to chill and be reheated for best flavor development.
Get a first-cut brisket (flatter on one end; less fat). For four people, a 3 lb brisket should be enough to feed everyone and make some yummy matzo-and-brisket sandwiches later in the week.
Trim the fat from the outer side of the brisket. On high, heat a VERY large, deep pan with a lid or a Dutch oven that can fit the entire brisket in one piece (it should not curl up the sides). When pan is very hot, put the brisket in and brown the fat side of the meat until it is nearly scorched and very brown. Turn and brown the other side the same way; remove brisket from pan and set aside.
Slice 2 large, sweet onions into thin half-rings and sauté in the fat from the brisket (add a little vegetable or olive oil as needed). Brown onions over high heat, stirring frequently and scraping up the browned bits from the brisket. The browner the onions, without burning, the better the gravy will be.
Return brisket to pan atop browned onions, and mince or press 2 cloves of garlic (or more, if you’re like us and love garlic) and spread on top of meat and sprinkle with salt. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat. After one hour, turn the meat. Turn every hour or so until meat is fork-tender at the thickest part. Only add water if it looks like the meat is drying out (neither my mom nor I have ever had to do this). Make sure brisket is really tender – a 3 lb. brisket should take between three and four hours.
Remove meat from gravy and set aside to cool. Taste the gravy and add salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate (overnight) the brisket and the gravy separately as this will make the meat really easy to slice and the gravy easy to de-fat.
About a half-hour to 45 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, take the meat from the refrigerator and slice it against the grain. Layer the brisket with the de-fatted gravy in a casserole and reheat, covered with foil, in a 350° oven. Serve hot (although cold leftovers are delicious).
Evie’s Matzo Kugel
Every year, my mother writes “ Leaven Can Wait,” a Passover column in her synagogue’s newsletter. This recipe is an annual staple of her column and both our Seder tables. Leftovers make a yummy breakfast in my household!
serves 6 - 8
1 cup minced onion
1 cup finely diced celery
6 TBSP butter or vegetable/olive oil
3 ½ cups matzo farfel OR 6 matzot broken into small pieces
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 eggs, slightly beaten
20 oz. chicken broth
In large pan, sauté onion and celery in butter or oil until onion is tender and translucent. Add farfel and stir. Combine beaten egg with salt, pepper and chicken broth and add to matzo mixture. Pour into a well-greased 1 ½ quart rectangular baking dish (I prefer glass) and bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.
Warning: This Passover dessert/snack is so addictive that you may find yourself eating the entire batch solo.
4 – 5 pieces of matzo
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (dark makes for a prettier caramel)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks or chopped dark chocolate
Fleur de sel or other chunky/flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a jellyroll pan (or baking sheet with sides) with foil or parchment paper.
Put the matzot in a single layer on the baking sheet, breaking as needed to completely cover the bottom of the pan in one layer.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly. Once the mixture begins to boil, cook for another three minutes while stirring. Mixture should be thickening and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and immediately pour over matzo, distributing evenly using a heatproof spatula.
Put the pan in the preheated oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes, watching carefully to make sure caramel doesn’t burn. If it looks like it’s getting too brown, turn oven down to 325°. Caramel should be toffee-colored and bubbly when you remove it from the oven.
Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips or chunks, let sit for 5 minutes then spread evenly over surface of caramel and matzo.
Let cool for another 5 – 10 minutes then sprinkle with fleur de sel or chunky salt. Do a test “drop” first: if salt melts into chocolate right away, allow another few minutes of cooling.
After salt is added, let matzo crackle cool completely, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container. If you don’t eat it all first, this can last up to a week.
Please note that these recipes are NOT kosher.