I go through food phases for some reason. One month I crave Southern Food, another month I crave French Food, this month I seem to be craving Jewish Food. I used to have good to bad jewish food when I was a kid depending on who made it. Most jewish food is fairly simple peasant style food but it's amazing how many people make it badly.
This week I attempted to make Chopped Liver and Brisket with current 2012 cooking techniques and trends. One was successful and one not so much.
My first attempt was the Chopped Liver. When I was a kid my mother would make it about once a year if that. Sometimes it was good...sometimes not so much. My dad would buy it at jewish deli stores when he wanted to have some. Also sometimes good ...sometimes average. I think I may have made it once in my life with my mom around but pretty much on my own. This time I made it on my own with my food network knowledge into improving it slightly. If it's not broke don't fix it but if it could use a boost...boost away.
I picked up a kosher package of chicken livers from No Frills, I would classify this as peasant food for sure since the package cost just about $2.00 so I would say this is a great thing to make for a group of people if you are on a budget.
I began by dredging the chicken livers in flour and setting aside for the flour to soak into the chicken livers.
I chopped 3 medium onions into rings and sauteed them in oil and salt and pepper until they were caramelized.
I took the onions out of the pan and then tossed in the chicken livers cooking them on medium until they were fully cooked. I added a good pinch of paprika and cayenne pepper to give it a slight kick of flavour and added salt and pepper to season.
Once the livers were cooked I added the onions back to the pan and a nob of butter and then added about a 1/4 cup of Brandy and let the alcohol cook down until the juices reduced.
I cooked 3 hard boiled eggs at the same time and peeled them.
I then put the chicken liver mixture into a food processor with the hard boiled eggs and on the chop function processed until smooth but still a little chunky. I toasted some slices of baguette to eat with the Chopped Liver. I also added a dash of olive oil on top of the chopped liver. Here's what it looked like:
This one was successful.
The Brisket not as much.
With the Brisket I started with searing the brisket in a pan and then setting it aside in a dutch oven.
I then added sliced onions, carrots, garlic, shallots, celery, parsnips, a bay leaf, tomato paste and salt and pepper into the pan to cook until tender. I then added about 2 cups of water and added the whole mixture into the dutch oven with the meat and then added Pomegranate syrup. That was one of the big mistakes. I added too much... as it reduces the sugar content increases so it's tough to judge how the end result will be. So I would recommend only adding about 2 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup just to add sweetness. I also added some worsteshire sauce and some soya sauce for color. I didn't have any beef stock but if I did I would have added that. You could also add some red wine but I didn't this time.
I then put it into the oven and cooked it for a few hours. A little too long.. I wanted to break down the meat to make it tender but it just dried it out a bit. It probably would have been better if I had put the whole thing in a crockpot and let it go slowly while checking it along the way for tenderness.
So those are my tips if you try and attempt to make this. It tasted ok but this one falls into it still needs tweaking area.
So why am I craving these Jewish Foods? I am not sure exactly but maybe it's because I don't have the relatives alive that used to make these things at family dinners. These are things I didn't grow up making. I would make things like Italian food or mexican foods.. things that my mother didn't make or didn't make well. My mother never mastered spaghetti so I had to learn how to do it right if I wanted to be able to eat it.
I guess I learned how to cook by trying to improve on whatever my mother couldn't master. If she mastered it I didn't attempt to make it. Every now and then now I miss some of those foods and have been trying to re create some of them. I will master my own recipes eventually.
Jewish Food 2.0 in 2012.