Holiday "Brisket" on a Budget
By Elya Courtney, UGA '20
The High Holidays are upon us, and many Jewish students are figuring out how to make this year feel special. Hillels and Chabads around the country are working hard to make sure their students feel included, and to bring life into the Jewish communities around them even as we are all navigating difficult and different circumstances.
For me, High Holidays have the special significance of a new start. The opportunity to reconnect where perhaps the school year had whisked connections away, reflect deeply on things both happy and sad, and a chance to self-evaluate. For the last 4 years, I would arrange my schedule around being at the Hillel House and look forward to cooking with and for my friends.
This year, we have some special considerations. Many of us are concerned about COVID19 and keeping our communities safe. Perhaps we are worried about our parents and grandparents, our rabbis, and our mentors. High Holidays are a time where usually, we celebrate and observe with our families and communities. The traditional, mouth-watering briskets are huge for that reason, there are a lot of people to be fed! They’re also usually well out of a college or graduate students’ price range, and this year many of us are wondering what to cook on our own.
As I was thinking about High Holidays this year, and thinking about recipes, I realized that it would be really fun to come up with something that brought the traditional flavors we know and love to a more affordable level. My goal was to make this a fun, affordable, and exploratory experience with your roommates, or a friend or two, and Zooming in to your family and congregations to observe remotely. You might even tear up a little bit if you walk outside for a few minutes, then walk back in and smell the roasted goodness.
The hardest part about this recipe is waiting. Brisket takes FOREVER, and other cuts of beef roast also take a long time. The wait is worth it, and if you stop the cooking process too early your meat will be tough. It can be hard to figure out how to take a limited budget and make a meal feel special, but cheap red wine and a non-brisket beef roast can come together to make something worth so much more with some love and attention. Luckily, you have plenty of time to study, and you will have comforting food for days when you are done. This recipe pairs well with more wine, Shabbat candles, challah, veggies, and long-distance hugs.
Shanah Tovah, friends!
Red Wine Beef Roast
1 3-4 lb beef chuck roast
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 cups red wine
3 cups beef broth (bouillon based is fine!)
3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (Alternately, 2 tbsp soy sauce)
2 -3 tomatoes, quartered
2 slices of ginger (remove prior to serving, or 1/8 tsp ground ginger)
1 4-inch spring of fresh rosemary (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp dried thyme
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
½ tsp paprika (OR 1/8 tsp red pepper)
1 Vidalia (Sweet) onion, cut into 1/8th sections
2 sticks celery, broken
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into equal-sized chunks
1 tbsp salt
2-3 tbsp corn starch
LOTS of fresh cracked pepper
*recommended double layer (2) half-sheet aluminum disposable baking pans in the oven!
Preface: This roast can be cooked 2 ways: low and slow in the oven (Time= ~3-4 hours), or in a slow cooker (Time = 8 hours). Once started in either, just check every hour or two and flip the roast over to make sure the whole cut gets some love. Decide in the planning stage! Both are super friendly to people working from home. It pairs SUPER well with potatoes of any kind: You can either add chunks when you add the carrots to your roast, or smash them. I also prepared roasted broccoli while my oven was on -> light oil coating, a little salt, garlic, paprika, and 20 minutes and 1 shake later.
Stage 1: Time, approximately 35-40 minutes if you’re singing along to your chosen soundtrack.
Prepare all of your aromatics(spices) and vegetables first. Mix your red wine, your beef broth, and your spices together. Heat up a little bit of vegetable oil in a large pan until glistening, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then sear all sides of your roast until beginning to darken. This helps add some flavor!
After the roast is seared on the outside, place it in a double-layered half sheet aluminum baking pan, or into your large Crockpot slow cooker bowl. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees, or turn on your Crockpot to high. Turn your pan to low, and add your mixture of wine, spices, and beef broth into the pan to deglaze. Stir gently, scraping the bottom with a rubber or wooden spatula or spoon for a few minutes. Then, pour this into your cooking dish as chosen. Add your onions, tomatoes, and celery. Cover your pan with foil and place in the oven, or put the lid on your crockpot.
Here is where paths diverge. Path 1 = Oven, Path 2 = Crockpot.
Path 1: Congratulations! You can walk away for 1.5-2 hours. I don’t suggest leaving the house with the oven on for very long, but if your roommate is home go for it. After this point, turn your roast over in the oven, add your carrots to the pan and re-cover it. You may need to remove some liquid at this point, but don’t throw it away! You can save it to make yummy gravy. Cook covered for another 1.5-2 hours until fork tender. Let cool until touchable, then cut into ~1/2 inch slices on a cutting board with your sharpest Chef’s knife.
Path 2: Congratulations! You can walk away for up to 4 hours! No worries if you have to pop over to campus or the store for forgotten side-dish ingredients, leaving a crock pot on is pretty safe. After 3-4 hours, turn over your roast and let it simmer away for another hour or so before adding your carrot chunks. Don’t be afraid to add some (boiling!) water if you think your liquid level looks low. Cover and let it keep cooking away. At this point, your roast may feel tough. Don’t worry! It’s time to cover it and walk away for another 2 hours. Think about preparing the rest of dinner about an hour before you want the roast to be done. Let cool until touchable, then cut into ~1/2 inch slices on a cutting board with your sharpest Chef’s knife.
Check the roast when you begin preparing your side-dishes by stabbing it with a fork. Try to turn the fork to pull a small piece of meat off. If this is not easily accomplished, your roast will need at least another hour. All Crockpots and Ovens are a little bit different .
When your roast is fork tender, remove it from the oven or turn your Crockpot to warm. Take 3-4 cups of juices and place into a small pot on the stove. Add 2-3 tbsp cornstarch mixed thoroughly into ¼ cup of water, mixing thoroughly. Add a little more wine, if you feel so inclined. Stir gently as you bring the pot to a boil, the drippings should now thicken into a sauce. Season to taste, and pour over your roast after slicing.
This easily makes dinner for 3-4 people with enough leftover for meals afterwards!