Traditional Chanukah Dishes

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah begins Friday night.

In many homes, Chanukah begins with a traditional meal of brisket and potato pancakes, or latkes.

So, on "The Early Show," in preparation for Chanukah, chef Steven Raichlen, host of the PBS series "Primal Grill" and the author of "The Barbecue! Bible," shared how to make some of his favorite latkes.

Recipes Galore

From the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration," Chanukah marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil." According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.

SWEET POTATO LATKES

Serves 4

1-1/4 pounds organic orange sweet potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons matzo meal
1 large egg, beaten

Approximately 1/2 cup canola oil plus 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil for frying

Grate the sweet potatoes and onion, using the grating disc of a food processor or large holes of a box grater. Transfer the mixture to a colander to drain. Squeeze handfuls of the mixture to wring out any additional liquid. Transfer the potato and onion to a mixing bowl and stir in then, salt, pepper, nutmeg, baking powder, and matzo meal. Stir in the egg. This should be done at the last minute.

Heat the half canola and olive oils a deep, heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron). Drop 2 tablespoon blobs of sweet potato mixture into the pan, flattening with the back of the spoon. Each latke should be about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

Fry the latkes until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning with a slotted spoons. When crisp, transfer the latkes to paper towels to drain. Replenish oil as needed. Serve the latkes at once with applesauce or sour cream.

TRADITIONAL POTATO LATKES

Serves 4.

1-1/4 pounds organic Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons matzo meal
1 large egg, beaten

Approximately 1/2 cup canola oil plus 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil for frying
Confectioners' sugar in a shaker for serving

Grate the potatoes and onion, using the grating disc of a food processor or large holes of a box grater. Transfer the mixture to a colander to drain. Squeeze handfuls of the mixture to wring out any additional liquid. Transfer the potato and onion to a mixing bowl and stir in the parsley, salt, pepper, baking powder, and matzo meal. Stir in the egg. This should be done at the last minute.

Heat half the canola and olive oils a deep, heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron). Drop 2 tablespoon blobs of potato mixture into the pan, flattening with the back of the spoon. Each latke should be about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

Fry the latkes until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning with a slotted spoons. When crisp, transfer the latkes to paper towels to drain. Replenish oil as needed. Serve the latkes at once with applesauce or sour cream.

HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE
Makes 3 to 4 cups.

2 pounds sweet apples
4 cloves
2 strips grated lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup sugar or honey, or to taste
1 cup water (or as needed)

Wash the apples and core the apples, leaving the skins intact, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Stick the cloves in the strips of lemon zest. Place the apples, cloves, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, sugar, and in a large heavy pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover the pan and gently simmer until the apples are soft, 20 minutes. Uncover the pan the last 5 minutes to evaporate any excess liquid.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the applesauce cool to room temperature. Transfer to a bowl for serving. I like to leave the spices and lemon in the applesauce, but remove them if you prefer.

BRISKET AND RUB
For the brisket and rub:
1 trimmed brisket (5 to 6 pounds), with a
layer of fat at least 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the vinegar-beer mop sauce:
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup beer
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
sweet and smoky baked beans
(recipe follows), for serving

1. Rinse the brisket under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub this mixture onto the brisket on all sides. If you have the time, let the brisket stand in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 to 6 hours. But you can certainly cook it right away.
2. Combine all the ingredients for the mop sauce in a nonreactive bowl and stir until the salt and brown sugar are dissolved.
3. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to low. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to low.
4. When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss 1 cup wood chips on the coals. Place the brisket, fat-side up, in an aluminum foil pan and place in the center the hot grate, away from the heat and cover the grill. Grill the brisket until tender, about 6 hours (the cooking time will depend on the size of the brisket and the heat of the
grill). Baste or mop the brisket with the mop sauce once an hour for the first 4 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals and 1⁄2 cup wood chips per side every hour. To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer: The internal temperature should be about 190°F.
5. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain, using an electric knife or sharp carving knife. Transfer the sliced meat to plates or a platter and pour the pan juices on top.
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