The appearance of bagels and rugelach at Christmas and Easter brunches seems proof positive that Jewish cuisine has indeed gone mainstream. But what really convinced me was a tsimmes with meat.
Meat is not unusual in the dish—the sweet vegetable and fruit stew is often either made, or paired, with brisket, flanken, or boneless beef chunks. But never with pork chops, as was the sweet potato tsimmes listed on the menu at Merge, a now-defunct restaurant in Greenwich Village.
This recipe is considerably more classic. But it is made without any added sugar or honey: carrots, prunes, and prune juice provide the sweetening, as well as a rich base for the gravy.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wide
Pour off all the fat in the pot and heat
Add the prune juice, broth, cinnamon, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil, scraping up the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the meat, fat side up, scatter the top with the chopped garlic, and spoon the pan sauce over everything. Cover tightly with foil, and place the pot lid over that.
Braise the meat in the oven for 2 hours, basting with the pan sauce every 30 minutes.
Add the vinegar to the pan sauce. Scatter the carrots, potatoes, and prunes around the meat, and spoon the pan sauce over them. Cover the pot again, and continue braising and basting for 1½ to 2½ hours longer, until the meat is fork-tender. (When basting, check that the liquid is bubbling gently. If it is boiling rapidly, turn the oven down to 300°F.) Remove the pot from the oven, uncover, and let everything cool in the pan sauce for 1 hour. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.
When you are ready to reheat the tsimmes, scrape off any congealed fat from the surface. Pluck out the cinnamon and the bay leaf and discard. Transfer the cold meat to a cutting board. Spoon out enough of the prunes and carrots to equal about
Slice the meat thinly across the grain at a slight diagonal. Slowly reheat the meat, the potatoes, and the remaining carrots and prunes (most of the prunes will be near-dissolved) in the pureed pan sauce. Stir in the minced garlic and cook another minute or two. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a generous dusting of black or cayenne pepper, if desired, to edge the sweetness.
Arrange the meat on a platter, surrounded by the potatoes, carrots, and prunes. Ladle plenty of hot pan sauce over everything, and pass additional sauce separately.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.