In the Kitchen Jewish Food

Beyond Brisket: Go ahead, get crazy. Change up your Rosh Hashanah.

By Shannon Sarna

This article originally appeared in The Nosher.

(JTA) – I know the holidays will look, and taste, different than most years. I also know many families cherish the big brisket, standing rib roast or pot roast that graces their table each year. Traditions are important, and food imparts its own sanctity as part of holiday experiences; the smell, the sight and the taste all play a crucial role in what makes family gatherings during a holiday so very special. 

But it’s likely that your Rosh Hashanah gathering will be smaller this year, as we make tough choices around safety and health due to COVID-19, and so a brisket or other large roast may not be the ideal dish to serve as the main attraction.

Not to worry. There are many alternatives to serving a brisket. Here are a few.

SPICY FISH IN CHERRY TOMATO AND HARISSA SAUCE

By Laura Brehaut, from the cookbook SHUK by New York City-based chef and restaurateur Einat Admony, and Tel Aviv-based food writer Janna Gur. 

Poached in spicy tomato sauce, this fish dish (a.k.a. chraime or dag hareef) is a Shabbat staple for North African Jews, Einat Admony and Janna Gur write. It takes on different colour when made by Libyan (Tripolitan), Moroccan or Tunisian cooks.

“Often in Israel, in traditional Moroccan families, they serve it as a first course with some bread to mop up the sauce. It’s a beautiful, beautiful way to cook fish,” says Gur. “This is one of those dishes that, if you don’t tell people how easy it was, you would be considered this super-sophisticated chef because it looks amazing and it takes like 15 minutes to make. And, as opposed to a lot of fish recipes, you can reheat it.”

Cherry tomatoes, while not a traditional choice for the dish, add sweetness and a dollop of color.

Ingredients

1/3 cup vegetable oil

10 garlic cloves, smashed

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 jalapeño chili, cored, seeded and thinly sliced (see note)

1 tbsp harissa, store-bought or homemade (see note)

3 tbsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground caraway

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 pints cherry tomatoes

Kosher salt

1/2 cup water

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

Freshly ground black pepper

6 (7- to 9-oz) fillets flaky white-fleshed fish (grouper, bass, snapper and halibut are all nice), skin-on, if possible

Challah or couscous, for serving

Directions

Pour vegetable oil into a relatively deep, large skillet. Immediately add the smashed garlic cloves and cook over very low heat just until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch the pan closely to make sure the garlic doesn’t brown, or it will become bitter. Increase heat to medium-high, add tomato paste, half the jalapeño, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the harissa and all the paprika, caraway and cumin, and stir for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add 1 1/2 pints of the cherry tomatoes (reserve the rest for later) and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down, 7 to 8 minutes. Pour in the water, bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until thick and saucy.

Remove about 3 tablespoons of whole leaves from the cilantro bunch and reserve for garnish. Tear up the rest of the bunch and toss into the pan. Let it blend with the sauce, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and the remaining jalapeño, and 1 1/2 teaspoons harissa if you want more heat. Bear in mind that once you add the fish, you won’t be able to stir the sauce and play with the seasonings.

Add the fish fillets, skin-side up, tucking them gently into the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes on top of the fish. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, without stirring, until the fish is cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Thicker fillets, like halibut, will need 2 to 3 minutes more. To check the fish for doneness, make a small incision in the thickest part of the fish and make sure the flesh is opaque and flaky.

Serve straight out of the pan, garnished with the cilantro leaves, with bread or couscous alongside.

Serves 6

Note: This dish is meant to be spicy, but how spicy is up to you. Start with half the amount of harissa and chili, and fire the dish up to your liking.

INA GARTEN’S CHICKEN MARBELLA, UPDATED

From Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks by Ina Garten © Clarkson Potter 2018.

Ingredients

½ cup good olive oil

½ cup good red wine vinegar

1 ½ cups large pitted prunes, such as Sunsweet

1 cup large green olives, pitted, such as Cerignola

½ cup capers, including the juices (3 1/2 oz)

6 bay leaves

1 ½ heads of garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and minced

¼ cup dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 (4-lb) chickens, backs removed and cut in 8 pieces

½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

Directions

Combine olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken to the marinade. (You can also place the chicken and marinade in a 2-gallon plastic storage bag and squeeze out the air to make sure the chicken is fully covered with the marinade.) Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken, skin side up, along with the marinade in one layer in a large (15-by-18-inch) roasting pan, sprinkle with the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, and pour the wine around (not over!) the chicken. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken is 145 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken, prunes, and olives to a serving platter, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the pan juices.

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH TAHINI & TOMATO SALSA

From Feasting: A New Take On Jewish Cooking by Amanda Ruben, published by Hardie Grant Books March 2018.

“One of my chefs, Matthew Wihongi, created this recipe for our catering business and it really wows,” says Amanda Ruben. “If you don’t have time to slow roast the cauliflower, parboil it until it is soft enough to pierce with a fork. Then put it in the oven with the saffron liquid and baste until golden.

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower head

1 Tbsp saffron threads

1 Tbsp sumac

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground chili powder

1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra if needed

1 tsp salt

2 cups Tahini

½ cup slivered pistachios, to garnish (optional)

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, to garnish (optional)

2 Tbsp chili threads (optional)

For the tomato salsa:

¼ red onion, finely diced

5 tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice

sea salt, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the cauliflower head on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Combine the saffron threads with 2 cups boiling water and set aside to steep for 15-20 minutes. In a bowl, combine the saffron liquid with the sumac, ground spices, oil and salt. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower, making sure it is evenly coated. Cover the tray with foil and roast the cauliflower in the oven for 2 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the saffron liquid. Add more oil if needed to keep the cauliflower moist. Remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes to brown the cauliflower a little. While the cauliflower is browning, make the tomato salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt.

To serve, spread the tahini dip on a large platter and place the cauliflower on top. Cut out a wedge of cauliflower and pile tomato salsa inside and around the edge of the cauliflower. Garnish with slivered pistachios, pomegranate seeds and chili threads.

Main Photo: WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH TAHINI & TOMATO SALSA

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