I do promise to bring balance to the blog with postings that feature vegetables, fruits, grains, and the likes. But, in the interest of good experiments, i.e. The Illustrious Vessel, we’ll press forward today with Doufeu, part deux.
For a number of years—-back in The Day—-we catered the large Seder for Congregation Micah. It was a great service offered to their community who were either unable to observe this Passover meal and ritual at home, or simply desired to celebrate it with a group (150-200!) of fellow members.
I am not Jewish, but had many Jewish catering clients, and so I had a basic understanding of what was needed for the service, what was acceptable—from a dietary standpoint—and what had to be avoided. The director of Congregation Micah provided us with all the guidelines, and a copy of the Haggadah, the special text.
Restrictions include: no dairy, no leavened grain, no legumes, corn, or rice.
It was a challenging and rich experience, to design a balanced menu, to properly (and tastefully!) prepare the meal, and serve all the components in their rightful order to so many people.
We learned some fabulous recipes—I make a mean Matzo Ball Soup, just thinking about it now gets my mouth watering!—
It was a great history lesson too, learning how the Seder plate holds symbols in the form of foods to bring mindfulness to the Exodus, the struggle from slavery to freedom.
We always prepared beef brisket, using a recipe given by a client long ago, that slow cooks the meat with onions, chili sauce, red wine, and ginger ale. The results were always remarkable: the beef rich and tender, covered in a sauce thickened with caramelized onions, deepened with wine, spiked with sweet-sour notes from the chili sauce and soda.
With the first day of Passover coming up on March 30th, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out my brisket recipe, with modifications, in the Doufeu.
I am happy to report that the results were Superb.
Searing the rub of salt, black pepper, and paprika onto the meat goes far in creating a lovely bronzed brisket—-critical to the braise.
I reduced the amount of liquids in my recipe for the doufeu to achieve the desired flavor profile. Plenty of onion is still needed though!
Brisket of Beef
2-3 T. Olive Oil
6 lb. Brisket, trimmed of excess fat
Cracked Black Pepper
3-4 Onions, sliced
2-3 Garlic cloves, minced
½ cup red wine
½ cup ginger ale
½ cup chili sauce
Heat Doufeu on low. Add olive oil. Rub trimmed brisket with salt, black pepper and paprika.
Brown the brisket on both sides and remove.
Add about ½ of the sliced onion and saute for a few minutes. Lay the brisket on top of the bed of onions. Pour over red wine and ginger ale. Spread the chili sauce over the top of the brisket, sprinkle with minced garlic and remaining sliced onions. Cover with lid, fill with ice, and turn heat down to lowest setting.
After 3 hours, remove lid, flip over the brisket. Cover and cook for about 2 more hours.
Meat will feel very tender when pierced with a fork. When done, remove brisket.
Slice brisket thinly, across the grain, and lay out on a serving platter. Cover with hot oniony gravy and serve.
This platter of sliced brisket was much-loved at our last community pot luck!