Tsimmes (Yiddish for “mess” or “state of confusion”) is a traditional Jewish holiday dish made by stewing root vegetables with dried fruit or meat over low heat. It also happens to be a naturally allergen-free and gluten-free dish. This makes it a Passover go-to in my food allergic household. There is no reason to sacrifice rich tradition and great taste when you can still enjoy exotic and delectable dishes like this one. This simple recipe borrows heavily from traditional Jewish culinary history, with a nod to my great-grandmother Dora of Vilna, Lithuania – whose spoon you see pictured above.
My great-grandmother probably would have made a Brisket and a Tsimmes. But I’m a modern woman who’s short on time, so I prefer to make it all in one pot! Additionally, the sweet root vegetables and prunes really enhance the flavor of the brisket and tenderize it. Be sure to find a good quality cut of brisket, for optimal tenderness (read: not too lean!).
If you like, you can cook the brisket whole. I chose to cube it, since my kids prefer it this way. Cook the tsimmes until tender. You really can’t overcook brisket, as long as it’s in the sauce, and cooked at a low temperature. One other bonus to this recipe is it’s better a day or two after you cook it, so make it early, before your Seder, then reheat at 350?F.
Find more allergy free recipes at Cybele Pascal: Allergen-Free Cuisine
This delicious Brisket Tsimmes is far from a “mess”. Its rich orange hues and dotting of lemon circles make it pretty enough to be a table centerpiece.
2 pounds brisket, cubed
freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled, cut in half crosswise, then cut lengthwise (pole to pole) into very thin slivers
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry Kosher red wine
¼ cup honey
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 8-10 pieces
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup dried pitted prunes, halved
¼ cup potato starch
½ cup water
2 lemons, washed and cut into very thin rounds
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sprinkle brisket liberally with kosher salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe casserole (I use my Dutch oven). When really hot (it will start to shimmer), add meat, browning 2-3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd the meat, cook it in two batches. Transfer meat to a bowl and set aside.
4. Reduce heat to medium and sauté the onions, until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add chicken broth, and de-glaze by scraping up any brown bits on the bottom and side of casserole. Add wine and honey and stir.
6. Add meat back to casserole, stir, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook 1 hour.
7. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and plums. Stir gently to combine.
8. Mix potato starch with water. Add to casserole and stir gently. Top with lemon rounds. Cover and cook 1 hour more. Remove cover and cook 30 minutes more until lightly browned on top, basting as necessary.
Allergy-Free Brisket Tsimmes © 2011 by Cybele Pascal
(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)
SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns before consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.
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