In addition to foods that are an integral part of the Passover seder, there are other dishes that have no literal significance for the holiday’s celebration but are customary dishes for the occasion. This is the turkey on Thanksgiving. No, you don’t NEED it…but what would the holiday be without?!
Two examples of such gotta-have-it dishes on Passover are brisket and tsimmes. Brisket is standard fare even outside the world of Jewish holiday observance, and anyone who doesn’t love melt-in-your-mouth, moisture filled, slow cooked beef has got to be a little nutty. Or vegetarian. Tsimmes is a traditional Ashkenazi dish made with sweet potatoes, carrots, and dried fruit. There are, surprise!, several varieties.
I made my brisket this year in my trusty slow cooker and borrowed the recipe from the trusty Smitten Kitchen blog. The recipe was stellar, although if you read the full original post I will comment that many non-orthodox Jews (myself included) avoid corn syrup during the holiday. This full recipe for this is HUGE, so I made only 2 lbs of meat and reduced everything else in the recipe to about 1/3 of the original quantity.
Here’s the rundown of the brisket magic from my kitchen.
Cook the onions with oil, garlic and spices:
Prepare the sauce with beef broth, ketchup, chili sauce (corn syrup free!!) and brown sugar. I didn’t put very much sugar in…maybe a 1/4 cup.
Place the brisket in a slow cooker and then cover with onions and sauce:
Cook on low for 10 hours:
When it’s done, transfer to a pan to marinate in the fridge for one day before reheating to serve:
This brisket was great, and the sauce was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
And now moving on to tsimmes…
This is always a favorite dish of mine given my overwhelming adoration for both sweet potatoes and dried fruit. There are several types of tsimmes, some resembling something more like mashed sweet potatoes with mix-ins and others more like a roasted potato dish. I decided to go the roasted route this year and made something along the lines of this recipe with a few tweaks. To begin, I baked two thin-sliced sweet potatoes for 25 minutes at 450º.
While the potatoes cooked, I sauteed a 1/2 onion and two carrots:
Once softened, I transferred the onions and carrots to a large bowl and added one chopped apple, prunes, apricots, cinnamon, ginger, and orange juice:
When the potatoes finished baking I added those to the mix and stirred it all up:
I spread the mixture on an oiled baking pan and baked for 45 minutes at 350º.
Wow! This was world class delicious and went great with the brisket.
Having these dishes fulfilled my base level of Passover craving and left me open to do some experimentation during the rest of the week. Check back soon for some less-standard Passover dishes!