As a child, I looked forward to Hanukkah for weeks and weeks, probably even more than my birthday and our family’s annual Dude Ranch vacation. While I was a little envious of my friends who had stockings and trees full of gifts, I loved our family’s holiday traditions. Each night we would sing songs and light the candles on the menorah until we had filled all 8 (plus the shamash, or helper candle) by the last night.

After lighting the candles and singing the blessings, we would open a present with great anticipation (which was often more exciting than the presents themselves), and then we’d play dreidel for pennies or gold chocolate coins from Israel. On at least one night we would gather with lots of relatives for a big celebration that always included potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream, kugel and beef brisket.

In many homes, especially those with a connection to Israel, families enjoy Israeli Jelly Doughnuts, or sufganiyot, for dessert at Hanukkah time, such as these beauties from Food Wanderings.

Another traditional food for Jewish holidays, including Hanukkah, is a sweet and creamy noodle kugel, such as this one from Sassy Radish.

This brisket recipe originally came from my colleague Linda Wolpert, who discovered it in the 1979 cookbook of the National Council of Jewish Women of Greater Kansas City. She likes to make it a day in advance so the flavor develops, then she skims off the congealed fat at the top before reheating it in the microwave or in a 300 degree oven.

Please share one of your favorite holiday foods or traditions in the comments section below.

Recipe: Beef Brisket

  • Prep Time: 30 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 240-300 min(s)
  • Total Time: 330 min(s)
  • Servings: 8

A brisket recipe from the National Council of Jewish Women of Greater Kansas City

Ingredients

  • 7 pounds brisket of beef
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3-4 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. red/cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the meat in the roasting pan and top it with the onions. Sear the meat in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients. When the brisket is browned, remove it from the oven and pour the sauce over the meat. Bake it, covered, at 325 degrees for 4 to 5 hours until the meat is tender (you should be able to easily insert a fork into the center of the meat), adding more water and ketchup if it becomes too dry.
  3. Allow the brisket to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting it across the grain into thin slices.

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  • CarolinaGirl

    Thanks for sharing, I love brisket!.. My ex inlaws are Jewish and my ex MIL made the best brisket!

  • Tatiana

    The more I’m reading about jewish cuisine the more it seems to me, that Eastern European cuisine is basically jewish cuisine. Could that be right? I was raised on most of these meals and yet there isn’t one jewish person in my family that I know of.

    • http://www.thescramble.com Aviva Goldfarb

      Tatiana, you are correct, since so many Ashkenazi Jews originally came from Eastern Europe. The cuisines of Sephardic Jews, who come from the region of Spain, are actually much different than the foods eaten by most American Jews.

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