Hanukkah is the one holiday of the year that celebrates oil. How could I not love it? Luckily for me, I grew up next-door to Mrs. Barton, an excellent cook and my “adoptive Jewish mother”. Every year I remember her up to her elbows in the world’s biggest Tupperware bowl, mixing up the potato pancakes.
As a newlywed, I was terrified hosting my first dinner party. I went over to Mrs. Barton’s house to learn the secrets of her famous brisket. After the demo, I panicked. Mine would never turn out that perfectly! Like a television cook, she smiled and pulled out a finished brisket that she had already prepared for me the day before.
This Hanukkah, I am sharing her recipes with you. And then I am going to give her a call.
MRS. BARTON’S BEEF BRISKET
1 3-pound brisket (not corned)
1 small jar “fresh minced garlic” (around 1/4 cup)
1 envelope Lipton’s dry onion soup mix
1 can of beer
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks.
6 small to medium potatoes, peeled and halved
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Trim excess fat from brisket. Pierce surface all over on both sides with a sharp knife.
Put brisket into a large, deep roasting pan.
Rub garlic into brisket, pressing it into the little openings that the knife just cut.
Rub the soup mix into the brisket. Pour beer over and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Cook at 300 degrees for 4 or more hours, or cook at 250 degrees overnight.
Cool brisket completely and slice thinly against the grain. If you slice it while still hot, it will fall apart.
Reheat at 250 degrees.
POTATO PANCAKES (LATKES)
I think this is my own interpretation of Mrs’ Barton’s recipe, as I remember her using matzoh instead of flour. If you grate the potatoes straight into a bowl of water, it will help prevent discoloring. Nowadays I use a food processor, although many people think that changes the texture of the potatoes too much.
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
1 cup flour
3 Tablespoons grated onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel potatoes and grate fine. Add flour and eggs and blend well.
Add onion and season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in the skillet until you can flick a drop of water into the oil and make it sizzle.
Spread a little of the pancake mixture onto a flat spatula, forming a thick pancake.
Carefully slide the pancake into the oil, flattening with the back of the spatula if it is too thick.
A regular-sized pan can probably hold three pancakes at a time.
Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Eat while still warm with applesause (and sour cream if you can).
Photo by Reesie via Flickr