Israel: Israeli Salad ....and Brisket!

Once upon a time, I lived with my good friend Zack. Before living with me, Zack lived in a house with something like 8 other college boys. Zack and at least a few of these former roommates were Jewish. During my tenure as Zack's roommate, he invited me along to his old apartment to take part in Passover Seder. Being a foodie and a cultural anthropology nerd, I happily accepted the invite. Now, I will not say that this was a particularly orthodox Seder (it may have involved someone reading from The Haggadah in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice), but it was interesting, and above all, delicious.

As his contribution to the meal, Zack prepared his mother's recipe for beef brisket. It was delectable. As an aside, I adore Zack's mother. She is the nicest lady you'll ever want to meet. She sent us homemade Matzo Crunch during passover (SO GOOD), and she sent her son's goy roommate (that's me) an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree!

So, it was a natural decision that I would make Zack's Mom's (she has a real name--it's Karen) Beef Brisket for my Uber-Shiksa Seder. Actually, it was not my intent to do a Seder meal (which is why it's very clearly not a Seder meal). I wanted to do my Israel challenge during the week of Passover. My first thought was "Ooh! Macaroons!" But macaroons are not Israeli (they're French). Neither is beef brisket (it's German). So, I made macaroons and beef brisket and Israeli Salad.

Israeli Salad is considered one of Israel's national dishes. It's close to tabbouleh, but does not have bulgur wheat (making it a very appropriate Passover treat). Though it is a national dish, the origins are fairly recent. Tomatoes were not introduced into the area until the early-mid 1800's.

Israeli Salad (from
-4 small plum tomatoes
-2 cucumbers, peeled
-3 scallions
-1/2 cup flat leaf parsely, chopped
-1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
-1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
-3-4 tablespoons olive oil
-Juice of 1 lemon
-Salt & pepper to taste

1. Finely chop all vegetables and herbs.

2. Lightly mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Serve at room temperature (though, I had mine cold and it was pretty refreshing).

Zack's Mom's Beef Brisket (from Karen F. Zack's Mom.)
-3-5 lb beef brisket
-1 large white onion, chopped
-1 bottle of good, dark beer (we used Negra Modelo because there was absolutely no other good dark beers at the store...stupid Illinois. However, Negra Modelo worked just fine).
-Various spices, to your liking (I used the following: Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, and paprika).

1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. In a 13x9" glass pan, place brisket fat side up. Put as much of the spices on the brisket as you'd like. Pour chopped onions on top of brisket, and around sides. Pour the bottle of beer around the sides of the brisket (not on top!).

3. Cover pan tightly with tin foil. Bake for at least two hours. At the two hour mark, push the onions off the brisket and baste. If not done, re-cover and bake longer until your desired degree of meat done-ness is reached.



Lo said...

I love it when cultures collide and bring us utterly delicious things! That's one distinctly great looking brisket!

Zack said...

Addendum: after cooking the bejesus out of the brisket for at least 2 hours, remove the tinfoil and cook uncovered for half an hour to get everything extra brown and melty. Sorry for leaving that bit out of the original recipe!

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