If your family’s like mine, you have my condolences (Ba-boom! Thank you! I’ll be here all week). Seriously though, I love my family, but we cook twice as much as we eat. We have a holiday tradition of eating twice as much brisket as anyone ought, which results in heartburn and leftovers. Once the former has passed, it’s time to deal with the latter. Here are my favorite ways to eat that leftover holiday beef:
Pelliscadas A dear friend and collaborator on the smash hit ballet, Nutcracker: Rated R, recently introduced me to Cafe el Portal a delightful Mexican eatery in Manhattan’s Nolita district. El Portal has become her number one choice for a delicious, laid back meal between performances as a showgirl at celeb magnet cabaret/restaurant The Box. Cafe el Portal serves pelliscadas, which the menu describes as “boat shape corn masa filled with chorizo, fried beans topped with chicken, tinga, salsa greens, cheese and sour cream.” Here’s how you can make these at home:
- Make the “boat shaped corn masa”: You can do this from scratch fairly easily with masa harina a.k.a. masa flour and water. Here‘s a recipe that uses vegetable shortening or lard. Here‘s a recipe that uses potato. If you’re lazy you can just use Tostitos Scoops. I’m not usually a fan of mass-produced snacks, but these are very convenient little cup-shaped tortilla chips.
- Load up boats or Scoops with brisket.
- Top ’em off with some salsa (chipotle-flavored if you’ve got it), sour cream and cheese, and prepare yourself for a culinary trip to sunny Oaxaca, by way of cloudy Khelm.
Suggested Brew: If you must imbibe a Mexican beer, I suggest Negra Modelo. Unlike many of its brethren, it actually tastes like something other than the lime desperately squeezed into it. Suggested Spirit: Lt. Blender makes a surprisingly acceptable frozen margarita that comes in squeeze bags like Capri Sun.
2. JEW ‘CUE
Though we’re catching up to other parts of the country, it’s hard to find proper BBQ in New York City (unless Grandma Flossie happened to cook up this year’s brisket in her backyard smoker, that is). So you may as well play make-believe at home with this recipe for makeshift BBQ.
Pop some of that brisket in the oven with either:
A healthy dose of smoky barbecue sauce orA vinegar-based sauce and some smoked salt.
Suggested Brew: I suggest a smoked beer with this one to highlight the newly-infused smokiness of the meat. If you want to celebrate the holidays by rejoicing in how much better behaved the Germans are these days than a few decades ago, then Schlenkerla produces a full range of delicious rauchbier. If you prefer domestic, Stone Brewing Co. makes a widely available Smoked Porter that I can’t get enough of.
3. THE “MONTE SINAI” SANDWICH
This is my Jewish take on a Monte Cristo, a European sandwich made with French toast instead of bread. We all know challah is -the- bread for French toast, so you can knock out two leftovers in this one. To make:
Mix about a cup of milk (or water, if you’re kosher or thrifty) with an egg. Briefly soak a couple slices of stale challah in the mixture. Place some leftover brisket between the slices, with some cheese of your choice. Recommended: Sharp cheddar and grill or fry the whole shebang until the exterior shows golden-brown lacing. Serve it with some honey-mustard, or just good, old-fashioned deli mustard.
Suggested Brew: I wouldn’t drink beer with this. This baby deserves a Concord grape wine spritzer. And a big, foolish grin :)
You might already have a recipe for tzimmes (a.k.a. honey carrots) with brisket. If you don’t have one, Arthur Schwartz offers The Sonkin Family Tsimmes on his site. Just remember: You’ve already cooked the meat, so only add it during the last fiftten to thirty minutes in the oven. Of course, if you made non-meat tzimmes for the holiday dinner, and you’ve got leftovers, then the recipe becomes easy: Add brisket, heat it up (or don’t) and dig in.
5. Cold, on the kitchen counter, with beer
Admit it: You eat cold leftovers in the kitchen when no one’s looking. It’s ok, we all do. And nine times out of ten, this is how I’m going to eat my leftover brisket. Maybe, after going to shul and eating a big holiday meal, I mustered enough energy to catch The Sway Machinery churn out global-Judaeo-Americana tunes at the Angel Orensanz Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Then I stumble home, drunk exhausted, open the fridge, grab the brisket, place it on the counter and dive in.
Suggested Wine: I need a drink that can cut through the now-gelled juices and solidified fat. A relatively dry Alsatian wine might do the trick, but I have neither the patience not the hand-eye coordination to deal with a cork right now.
Suggested Brew: I want beer, either with the clean bitterness of a Pilsner like Urquell, or with the roastiness of a porter like Anchor Porter. I take a bite and a swig, and stop to thank G-d for this moment of stillness, with nothing to think about but meat and beer.