There can certainly be challenges when melding two faith traditions, and at no time of year does that seem more evident than when Passover and Easter overlap. This is no coincidence, as the Last Supper is thought to possibly have been a seder meal, and the holidays share a great deal of symbolism and significance. But what are you to do when preparing a meal for your relatives on Easter that also needs to be kosher for Passover? What if you’re attending an Easter meal but your family is keeping Passover? Here’s the perfect recipe to share with your host so they can plan a meal that’s sensitive to Passover without giving up any of the delicacy of a big Easter meal.
Passover is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday, so while many Jews are non-observant during the rest of the year, Passover is a time when it can feel good to participate in a holiday outside the synagogue that has clear rituals around food. Not everyone follows these restrictions in the same way, and it’s a time when you have the ability to decide how to observe the traditions on your own terms. For example, I’ve seen family members order shrimp Caesar salad, hold the croutons, during Passover, or a cheeseburger—no bun.
In my house growing up, it wasn’t a Jewish holiday if the menu didn’t include brisket, which for us meant my mom’s chili sauce, onion soup mix and preserves concoction, which is truly delicious, and still one of our go-to favorites. But there’s another side to brisket: slightly less sweet, more southern and savory, and a great opportunity to let the oven do a lot of the hard work for you. What’s great about this recipe is that it will scratch the itch of your Jewish guests, to whom brisket is a holiday tradition, while also being a hearty main dish in an Easter celebration. By tweaking the recipe to be a bit more modern, everyone will be satisfied and not feel like they’re missing out on any dishes that might not be kosher for Passover.
This is actually a great time of year to buy a brisket, as traditional Irish Corned Beef, often served on St. Patrick’s Day is made from the same cut of meat, and so is more widely available. The brisket is a cut of meat from the chest of the cow and has a great deal of connective tissue, so most recipes you’ll find use a “low and slow” approach in order to get the most tender end result. When buying a cut of meat, they are usually listed as either “first cut/flat cut” or “second cut/fat end.” Either is fine for this approach, although I prefer the fattier cut. Most Jewish style brisket dishes are a type of pot roast, but a southern style brisket usually starts with a dry rub, as this one does. Brisket is best when it’s made ahead of time: You can even make ahead and freeze until the day of your event. I suggest serving this with some lighter, springier fare, like asparagus, orange and fennel salad, cauliflower kugel, and a lemon bar for dessert, as this dish is on the heavy side.
A note on this recipe: the ingredients, as they stand, are perfect for a year-round brisket, but if you are cooking this during Passover, please note the inclusion of mustard powder. Mustard is considered “kitnyot,” a category of food that some Jews do not consume during Passover. The category includes rice, corn, soy beans, string beans, peas, lentils, mustard, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Many Ashkenazi Jews do not eat these foods during Passover, while many Sephardic Jews do. Certainly adhere to your level of Kashrut and the traditions you are most comfortable with when preparing food for Passover, and be sure to ask your guests what they observe before preparing food for them. If you’re not sure, just leave out the mustard.
1. Preheat oven to 275
2. Combine all the spices together and rub on the meat, let sit for an hour if possible
Tip: apply rub generously, shake off excess. Even if you’re making a smaller cut of meat, use these proportions for the rub, and then you can store the extra.
4. Brown the meat on all sides, just a minute or two on each side
5. Cook in the oven for 1 hour, uncovered
6. Add the broth or stock, tightly cover, and cook for another 3-4 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
To serve sliced traditionally, wait for meat to cool, and then slice against the grain to get long slices.
Another wonderful option, if you’re having a brunch, is to “pull” the meat, using two forks, and serve topped with a poached egg. You can even serve it on top of a potato latke for a more hearty brunch feel.
A third choice is to serve as an appetizer, shredded, on top of matzah crackers, and topped with a light BBQ sauce, for a sort of “sliders” feel.