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Feast for fixings

‘Top your own’ party gives latkes a lift

Brisket-topped latkes       
Brisket-topped latkes       

There’s nothing quite like that first night of Hanukka: a platter full of hot, crispy latkes and the accompanying applesauce and sour cream. It’s classic, delicious, and a beloved comfort food for so many American Jews.

But by the third or fourth night, I need a change of pace for my latkes. Or to be more specific, I crave some other toppings.

While I love dipping my latkes into a healthy serving of rich sour cream, I also relish serving meat with latkes, specifically pulled brisket. You can use any beloved recipe of choice. After the brisket has finished cooking and cooled, shred it with two forks.

Throw a “top your own” latkes party and make an array of creative toppings — like the brisket or spicy cranberry applesauce recipes offered below — or tell your guests to bring their favorites. It’s fun to see how creative people can get.

Some other potential latke toppings: grilled pastrami and mustard, sauerkraut, salsa, pickled jalapenos, beef chili and caramelized onions. The sky’s the limit.

PULLED BRISKET

2- to 3-pound brisket 
1 Tbsp. salt 
1/2 Tbsp. freshly grated black pepper 
2 tsp.  garlic powder 
2 tsp.  onion powder 
1 tsp. dried parsley 
3 to 4 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 can beer 
1 can ginger ale 
1 bottle red wine 
4 ounces tomato paste 
4 medium carrots, cut into medium size pieces 
2 onions, cut into quarters 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley. Spread dry rub on both sides of brisket evenly. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or pot on medium high heat. Sear the brisket on both sides “until the smoke detector goes off.” Remove meat and set aside. 

Using the remaining oil and “good bits” on the bottom of the pan, saute carrots and onions, scraping the bottom until the veggies are soft, about eight to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Put the brisket back in the pan, and cover with wine, beer, and ginger ale. Place the entire pot with brisket into the oven, and cook for at least three to four hours, until meat is completely tender.

When meat is fork tender, remove and set aside on large cutting board.

Let the sludge rise to the top of the pot liquid and skim it off. Strain out carrots and onions and, using a food processor, blend with one to two cups of the cooking liquid; return mixture to the rest of the liquid and simmer to reduce slightly.

Using two forks, carefully shred the brisket into small strands. Add one to two cups of the cooking liquid to the brisket for additional moisture and flavor. 

Serve in a large bowl and allow guests to top latkes, or spoon small amounts of brisket on each latke for a more elegant presentation. 

SPICY CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE

6 apples, peeled and diced
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. orange zest
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 small dried chilies

Combine ingredients in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and cook for three to four minutes, until cranberries have softened and released juices. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes covered. Allow to cool slightly.

Place applesauce in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Process until desired consistency. Serve chilled. Makes about one and a half quarts.

Recipes have not been tested by New Jersey Jewish News; therefore, the staff may be unable to answer readers’ questions.

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