Let’s face it, when it comes to kosher classics — be it cholent or dafina, chicken soup or shurba — most of us are convinced that the best and most authentic version is the one our mother used to make.
I am no exception. When it came to most dishes, my mum was the business. I doubt I held this view alone, however: after all, she was Evelyn Rose. One of my all-time Yomtov favourites is her tsimmes. Every other version I hve tried pales by comparison. Succulent, tender cubes of slow-cooked beef and carrots cook in a glorious sauce — sweet but not too sweet — with chunks of golden-brown potato. It was a masterpiece of what she liked to call “gastronomic economics” — a rustic dish of simple ingredients. Happily, in a year when honey is apparently in short supply, her recipe uses golden syrup!
I believe it is really important to pass on our family recipes before they are lost to future generations. So here is Rosh Hashanah tsimmes, “just like Mamma used to make”. Have a sweet and happy New Year.
Serves 6 as a main course
● 900g (2 lb) slice of brisket
● 1.5 kg (3 lb) carrots
● 4 slightly rounded tbsp golden syrup
● ¼ teasp white pepper
● 2 teasp salt
● 1 tbsp cornflour
● 675g (1½ lb) potatoes
● Trim excess fat off the meat, leaving a thin edging, then cut into 4 cm (1 ½ inch) chunks.
● Peel the carrots and cut into 1.25 cm (½ inch) cubes.
Put the carrots and meat into a pan, barely cover with hot water, add 2 tbsp of the syrup, the pepper and ½ teasp of salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, either on top of the stove or in a slow oven.
● Skim or, if possible, chill overnight so that most of the fat can be removed.
● Lift out the meat and carrots and put into a large earthenware, enamel or enamelled-iron casserole.
● Mix the cornflour with enough water to make a smooth cream, then stir into the stock from the carrots and meat.
● Bring to the boil and pour over the carrots and meat.
● Peel and cut the potatoes into large cubes and arrange on top, adding extra boiling water if necessary so that they are just submerged.
● Sprinkle with the remaining 1 ½ teasp salt and 2 tbsp of syrup.
● Cover and bring to the boil on top of the stove, then transfer to a slow oven, Gas 2 (300˚F, 150˚C), for 3 ½ hours. Uncover and taste, adding a little more syrup if necessary.
● Allow to brown for a further half an hour then serve. The potatoes should be slightly brown and the sauce slightly thickened.