Here are two recipes for simple beef and chicken main courses that you can make ahead. At the bottom you’ll find links to more Passover recipes (desserts, kugel).
Do beef, poultry, and lamb qualify as healthy?
If they are pastured (grazed), natural, and kosher, sure they do.
Beef from naturally raised cattle that are allowed to graze on grassy pastures is loaded with protein, B vitamins, iron, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Omega 3 fatty acids, and CoQ10.
Especially if you serve them rare.
Although non-meat eaters are less likely to get some diseases than meat eaters, they may be at higher risk of others, including bone density problems and depression. Vegans and vegetarians (like me, formerly) should supplement with Vitamin B 12 in a complex, Omega 3s, and some other nutrients. But many do feel better eating vegetarian, at least at some points in their lives.
Anyway, to me, a perfectly cooked beef brisket is always a wow, although long-cooking renders it not as healthy-a-wow as it could be. Still, Passover is the time to go for it. And brisket is big on flavor, not fussing. Layers, towers, roll-ups, mock-this and clever-that are not my style for the seder—there is simply too much else to do and I am not fond of overly-handled food.
And besides, everyone (vegans and vegetarians excepted) loves brisket.
Recently, I had the opportunity to buy some gorgeous pastured beef with specific kashrus requirements. Unfortunately, I can’t get anymore. But I wanted to see what was out there and I did find KOL foods and GrowandBehold online. Check them out! They are two sources for pastured, glatt kosher meat. For those requiring specific and stricter supervision, pastured beef may be difficult to find.
I if you prefer, you can buy the tastier, more tender (and fatty) second cut, or deckle, though I actually like the somewhat stringy, leaner first cut of brisket because it tastes more like my grandmother’s.
For me, the biggest challenge in cooking for Passover, especially festive main courses suitable to serve to guests, is my community’s Passover custom of not using garlic, spices or fresh herbs—so in general, I rely on fresh fruit (especially citrus) juices, ginger, wine, and onions to intensify flavors.
This pot roasted brisket tastes rich and delicious, is really easy because you can make it up to two days in advance, and is a favorite with children (most of the alcohol cooks away.) Serve with mashed Japanese sweet potatoes, the kind with the yellow flesh, if you like and greens, such as bok choy or kale.
3 onions, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 6-7 pound first cut brisket (trimmed of most fat) or 1 8-9 pound second cut (deckle), trimmed of the top layer of fat
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper, to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons (or more, to taste), kosher for Passover honey or raw sugar if you use sugar
Seeds from one peeled serrano or jalapeno chili (reserve flesh for another use), enough to measure 1/4 teaspoon (or, to taste), optional
2 inch chunk of finely ginger, grated with the juice
6 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 bottle favorite red wine (Syrah aka Shiraz goes well) or 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
6-8 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound of assorted root vegetables (parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, etc.) peeled and cut into chunks, optional
Preheat oven to 325.
To seed chili, slice open lengthwise and scrape out seeds using point of long knife (wear gloves); reserve flesh for another use
Saute onions in oil, in heavy-bottomed, large skillet (you can use a roasting pan and simply transfer the ingredients into a bowl while preparing the onions and deglazing the pan). Do not use teflon for health reasons as well as taste and technique. When golden, remove onions from skillet and place into roasting pan, leaving as much oil as possible in skillet.
Rub salt and honey or sugar into beef. Brown beef in same skillet until deep brown. Honey and sugar burn, so do this over low heat. When done, remove from pan and place on top of onions.
Deglaze skillet with 1 cup of red wine (or juice), being sure to scrape the meat scraps off the bottom of the pan. Add ginger and juice, chili seeds, and tomatoes and mix well. Do not boil.
Snuggle in the carrots and other root vegetables if using. Pour wine or juice mixture over beef and onions. Add more wine or juice, and water, if necessary, to reach between 1/3 and 1/2 way up side of beef. Cover and cook for 3 hours. Turn beef upside down, and cover and cook for 2-3 more hours or until fork-tender. Uncover and cook an additional 30 minutes.
Allow brisket to rest before slicing. May be frozen in advance (minus the vegetables, they don’t freeze well) and sliced when partially thawed and reheated in 350 degree oven in sauce.
HJC’s Fragrant Poached Seder Chicken
It’s finally the Seder night. It’s late (we estimate we’ll be serving the festive seudah around 11:00 at night or later), everyone’s hungry, but not starving since they already have eaten quite a bit of matzah and the seder plate symbolic foods.
We have two full days of festive meals to go (squeezed in between six prayer services in shul) and we need an easy digestible main course.
Poaching boneless, pastured (relatively easy to find!) chicken breasts in Wissotzky kosher-for-Passover lemongrass and ginger green tea is easy and only uses one pot.
My recipe makes six to eight servings (or ten servings for lighter eaters) but you don’t need to add more tea bags if you are doubling the recipe—use the same amount of tea bags, ginger, and scallion or onion, and proportionally increase the carrots, red pepper, summer squash, lotus root if using. Always taste for seasoning.
And if you don’t want to use the teabags, you can poach the chicken in white wine or water, with added fresh ginger and peeled, sliced lemon grass.
6 boneless chicken breasts or 6 whole chicken breasts, cut in half with cleaver (I prefer skinless)
3 Wissotzky Lemongrass and Ginger Green Tea bags
2 inch knob of ginger, peeled, sliced into rounds
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered and/or 6 scallions sliced lengthwise, cleaned and checked for insects (best to use the greenhouse-grown bug-free kind)
2 red bell peppers, peeled, and sliced into rings (approximately 8-10 rings)
2 medium carrots, peeled and roll-cut into 6-12 large pieces (rangiri cut)
2 small yellow or green summer squash, (we peel them during Passover, but you don’t have to if it isn’t your custom), sliced into 12 round slices
1 lotus root, peeled, and cut into 12 round slices (optional)
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Prepare a large, deep skillet. Fill 2/3 the way up with water, bring to a boil, and place 3 teabags in pot, cover, turn off heat, and let steep for 5-7 minutes. (Not longer, liquid will become bitter).
Prepare chicken: Wash, trim away fat, on 6 chicken preferably pastured chicken breasts. Do not butterfly if using boneless. Place in bowl in refrigerator.
Prepare vegetables: Clean and slice vegetables and place in refrigerator in covered bowl(s) except for ginger, lotus root, and carrot.
Bring tea to gentle simmer. Add ginger and carrot to pan and cook until carrot is crisp-tender. Remove both from pan with slotted spoon, and set aside in small covered bowl in refrigerator. Add lotus root to pan and cook until crisp. Drain, cover and place in fridge. Turn off heat unless you are cooking the rest of the vegetables and chicken right away.
Twenty minutes or more before serving:
Bring tea to gentle boil and add 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt Add onion to pan, ginger, carrot, pepper, lotus root, squash to pan and cook until onion and carrots are tender and other vegetables are crisp-tender. You may do this ahead of time, and reheat by plunging into gently boiling tea for 30-45 seconds before serving. Remove with slotted spoon and place on warmer.
Add chicken and cook until chicken is done, approximately 12-14 minutes depending on thickness if using boneless chicken, or up to 25 minutes if using bone-in chicken. Remove with slotted spoon and place on warm plates. Par-boil scallions, if using, in tea for 20 seconds.
Quickly slice each breast of chicken into 4-5 long pieces, or just the two halves, if using bone-in chicken, and place in shallow bowls. Arrange vegetables around chicken, and top with red pepper rings. Spoon some of the hot broth on top and serve.
For sweet tooths, add fresh, sliced pineapple
For classic, use jasmine-green tea instead
For non-Passover meal, add 1 star anise to poaching liquid and add 1/4 cup best quality soy sauce two minutes before chicken is done. Add 24 poached snow peas and 12 fresh baby corns to vegetable list and canned bamboo shoots (fresh bamboo shoots are extremely toxic if not prepared correctly, why take the risk?) Reduce poaching liquid by two-thirds, and add 1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed in some of the liquid to a paste, add back into pan and heat until thickened. Serve with the chicken and alongside rice.