Monday, March 26, 2012

Brust Deckle

Typically when one thinks of a Shabbat roast, they think brisket. Not in my family. My mother rarely made brisket. Instead, she made brust deckle, a recipe handed down from her father. I'm really not sure how far back the recipe goes, but she handed it down to me and now this dish has become one of my specialties that people routinely ask for. Everybody who tries it, loves it. And everybody who tries it, asks me what it is. 

Brust is Yiddish for breast. Deckle is a thick, fatty part meat from the ribs, or in this case, the breast. Typically you'll find it as chuck deckle, or, in a kosher butcher shop it may actually be called brust deckle. Because of its fattiness it's usually a cheaper cut of meat than the brisket, about $7.99 a pound. Hence my nickname, "the poor man's brisket" perfect for a single guy who doesn't want to spend the money a brisket commands, but still wants a fantastic meal to impress. This article does a good job of explaining the deckle more thoroughly.

The prep time is less than 10 minutes but the cooking time is several hours, so this works best if you have a free evening or can run home for lunch during the work day, set it, and then take it out of the oven when you get home. I have never tried it in a slow cooker, but it should work. The end result is definitely worth the time. The meat is fork tender, sweet, and just melts in your mouth. Mmm, I might have to take a break from writing now and go finish that little bit leftover from Shabbat....

Brust Deckle
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce (Some varieties include anchovies, so be sure to check. I use World Harbors brand.)
1 tbs soy sauce
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Baby carrots and (peeled) sliced potatoes or baby potatoes to garnish

Mix the liquid ingredients and sugar, add two cups of water. Add the onions into the mixture and pour over the brust deckle. Garnish with baby carrots and potatoes (I use canned slices potatoes, there's no shame in this shortcut). 

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for four to five hours. The longer it cooks, the more tender it gets. I like to leave it in for the full five hours and the meat then just melts in your mouth. 

After cooking, let the meat cool and then refrigerate it overnight. When you're getting ready to serve, thinly slice the meat across the grain. Slicing it cold makes it much easier to handle. Then cover the meat and reheat it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and serve!

WARNING: With Pesach approaching you may be tempted to adapt this recipe for your seder. Unless you eat kitniyot (which we do in my family), don't. Mom tried it once with kosher l'Pesach ketchup  and soy sauce, and the flavors were just wrong. The sweetness of the dish, however, makes it perfect for Rosh HaShanah, or just enjoy it for a regular Shabbat meal, like I did last week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Harissa Chicken

Harissa is a Tunisian hot pepper mix popularized in Israel by Moroccan and North African immigrants. It is typically made from chilli peppers, garlic, coriander, and olive oil.  It goes great with meats or as a dip on its own. If you're really ambitious, you can make your own. 

I'm not that ambitious. I prefer to buy mine at the local store. I have used Pereg brand in the past, which I enjoyed, but recently tried Shim'on Ariche, a brand I found at the local Fairway supermarket. It comes in a handy squeeze bottle and it's very spicy. It's also a bit salty, which makes it difficult to use just as a spread,  but the saltiness balances out in cooking.
Now, I used to just use harissa with my shwarma, but after watching somebody cook with it on Food Network a few years ago I got inspired and came up with the spicy dish below. 

This recipe also uses schug. Check out my past post on Israeli spices to learn more about schug

*The Kosher Bachelor is not responsible if your head explodes from the heat*

Harissa Chicken

4 tablespoons harissa
3 tablespoons red schug
3-4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
3-5 lbs chicken thighs and chicken leg quarters (with back portion)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Lay out chicken evenly in a large baking dish. Baste the chicken thoroughly with the harissa mixture and then pour the remaining mixture into the dish. 

Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours.  

This dish pairs very well with rice. It's easy, spicy, and delicious! Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Corned beef explained

Remember that Drunken Corned Beef I made two weeks ago? I'm still salivating over it and can't wait to make it again. Even though St. Patrick's Day is recently behind us, I thought I'd throw in a little history about the pickled meat.

Green-clad revelers this past weekend might think that corned beef is a traditional Irish dish. Not so! And  culinary genius Alton Brown delves into the meat's history in the Irish-American community here at the 3:25 mark.

A few years ago I interviewed food historian and author Joan Nathan, who explained to me that there really is no such thing as "Jewish cuisine."

“It’s the dietary laws that make Jewish cooking what it is,” the author of “Jewish Cooking in America” told me. “And even if people don’t follow the dietary laws, they understand what they are. That’s the essential core of Jewish cooking through the ages. Dishes are geographical."

In another interview, food historian and author Rabbi Gil Marks elaborated.

“The Jews’ role in culinary history is not in innovation,” he told me, “but in transportation and transmission.”

In this case, Jewish immigrants brought pickled meats with them from Eastern Europe to the Lower East Side of New York. Then, a wave of Irish immigrants moved into the neighborhood and began adopting the popular foods of the community. And thus a tradition began.

I am a bit curious, though, as to why Alton's rabbi has sideburns like Elvis.

Stay tuned, folks! Coming up next is my fantastic recipe for sausage and broccoli rabe, which was a huge hit this past Shabbat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Birth of The Kosher Bachelor: Sesame-Peanut Noodles

You may recall from my first post that I once had a couple over for dinner who ate before they arrived, thinking that this single guy living alone and working full time isn't going to be able to cook anything of any substance. It was only after the third helping of these noodles that they admitted their grievous error and begged (OK, I'm exaggerating this a little) forgiveness. It was then that I had the inspiration for The Kosher Bachelor.

This is one of the first dishes I made when I started having Shabbat guests a few years ago and it consistently receives rave reviews. Last week when I attended the Purim meal with a local family and asked what I could bring, the daughter repeatedly asked for the noodles. I made shwarma instead but promised they would have the noodles when they came to me later in the week for Shabbat dinner (which they did and devoured them, along with the corned beef).

These are great served hot or chilled, as an appetizer, side dish, or a quick lunch. Enjoy! 

Sesame-Peanut Noodles

1 box whole-wheat spaghetti

1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs sugar
Sesame seeds
1 tsp (approximately) garlic powder
1 tsp (or to taste) crushed red pepper

Cook noodles according to directions on the box. After they are finished cooking, reserve a couple of tablespoons of the starchy liquid. Drain the noodles and set them aside. 

In a large pot, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sriracha, and sesame oil. Mix on medium heat until ingredients combine into a thick sauce. Add in the starchy water and mix thoroughly.

Lower the heat and add the noodles and toss to coat.  Garnish with sesame seeds, crushed red pepper, and cilantro.  Serve warm or chilled.

Prep time: Less than five minutes
Cooking time: About 10 minutes

Monday, March 12, 2012

Drunken Corned Beef

There's nothing I love better than a hot pastrami sandwich. Well, strike that. There's nothing I love better at a deli than a hot pastrami sandwich. At a banquet or shmorg, I head straight to the carving stations for fresh, hot slices of pastrami, corned beef, and whatever other delectable meats are being offered. 

Replicating the juicy, tender meats at those fancy carving stations may seem daunting. Not so, says The Kosher Bachelor! Last week I picked up a 3 lb corned beef at my local supermarket, determined to cook it to perfection. The only problem? I had no idea how to actually cook it. I posted on Facebook and got the best response from my college roommate: Step 1: Rent an Irishman. Step 2: Fill with whiskey. Step 3: Place in kitchen. 

Amusing, but not very helpful as I don't know any Irishmen and I don't easily part with my whiskey. So I scoured the Internet for recipes and eventually settled on the one below, which is a mix and match of what I thought were the best ideas from the dozen or so other recipes I read.

Drunken Corned Beef
1 2-5 lb corned beef
1 bottle Guinness beer
Spicy brown mustard
1 tsp chopped garlic
Black pepper

Coat the corned beef in the mustard and place it in a deep pan. Chop up the garlic and rub it into the meat. 
Sprinkle the beef with with black pepper and then pour the beer over it. Cover the dish with foil and cook at 350 degrees for 5-6 hours or until the meat has reached your desired tenderness.

Let the beef stand for 10 minutes and then slice it across the grain. Serve with a spicy mustard, in a sandwich, or on its own. All delicious.  

I would have taken more, better pictures after Shabbat but there was no corned beef left. My guests literally devoured it all. And it took less than 10 minutes of actual preparation to make. Now if only I had someone to stand at a carving station in my dining room to serve it while wearing a chef's hat.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Start off Shabbat with some hummus!

As promised, my new toy is playing an integral role in this week's Shabbat dinner. I've already whipped up my hummus and red cabbage cole slaw, and I'm about to start on my (pareve) peanut butter-banana ice cream.

Also on the menu tonight is harissa chicken, corned beef, and sesame-peanut noodles. And, of course, chicken soup. I'll post a full menu, recipes, and pictures next week, but here's a little something to get you salivating. 

Shabbat shalom!


1 can chic peas (15 oz), drained
1-2 lemons
2-3 cloves garlic (I always put in at least 3. For me, when it comes to hummus, the more garlic the better!)
½ cup good quality tahini (I use Achva brand)
parsley (a couple of sprigs)
white vinegar

Pour the chic peas into food processor, fitted with metal blade. Add the garlic, parsley, juice of ½ lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and ½ tsp cumin. Process until very fine.

Add tahini and a cap full of white vinegar. Process until the hummus is the consistency of heavy cream, adding water, as needed. The more water you add, the thinner it will be. So if you want a thick hummus, go with about 1/4 of a cup.

Add more lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of cumin, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix.
Refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature, with challah or baked pita bread.

For a little extra flavor, dig out a well in the center of your hummus and add some olive oil, then sprinkle with za'atar.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New toy!

Purim starts tonight, but I have a confession: I love latkes. In the great Latke-Hamantaschen Debate, latkes win hands-down every time. For the past few years in Teaneck, Ma'adan, a local kosher market, has held a latke-eating contest. Unfortunately, I have yet to win (I do hold the 2011 title in the Picklicious pickle-eating contest, however).

But I digress....

The point is, I love latkes. And for the past couple of years I have hosted a big Chanukah party with lots and lots of latkes. Unfortunately, tragedy struck this past Chanukah when my food processor died on me - right as I was making 5 pounds of latkes. Fortunately, I was able to borrow one from a friend and Chanukah was saved! But I remained without a food processor.

That is, until this week! I am now the proud owner of a brand new KitchenAid 7-cup food processor!

It's a thing of beauty, is it not? And, kind readers, my good fortune is your good fortune. This Friday night I am hosting a Shabbat dinner, and using a number of food processor-centric recipes. I will, of course, post my full menu on Friday, along with recipes and pictures next week. Just to give you a taste of what's to come, though, two of the dishes I plan on making include hummus and pareve banana-peanut ice cream. How will I do it? You'll have to check to find out!

And maybe, just maybe, I'll make a latke or two.

Have a freiliche Purim!