Meat Tsimmes with Prunes and Carrots

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield: about

    8

    Servings

Appears in

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.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 4 pounds of brisket or beef shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat, wiped with a damp paper towel, and patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound onions, chopped (4 cups)
  • 2 cups prune juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, or good-quality, low-sodium purchased
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped, plus1 large garlic clove, minced
  • About 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 10 to 12 medium carrots, scraped and quartered
  • 10 to 12 new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • cups pitted prunes, chopped
  • Cayenne (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wide 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy flameproof casserole. Add the meat and brown it well on all sides, but don’t allow it to develop a hard, dark crust, which might make the meat bitter or tough. (If necessary, cut the meat in half and brown it in batches.) Transfer the meat to a platter, salt and pepper it all over, and set it aside.

Pour off all the fat in the pot and heat 2 tablespoons fresh oil. Add the onions, salt and pepper them well, and sauté them over medium heat, lifting and tossing occasionally, until they are nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes.

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 1 cup, and combine the mixture with the defatted pan sauce in a food processor. Puree until smooth.

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.

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