Getting Stewed On Rosh HaShanah | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Getting Stewed On Rosh HaShanah


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Tzimmes done right. Wikimedia Commons

Brisket or chicken? Sweet potatoes or carrots? Don’t make a fuss over the tzimmes.

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It’s one of the Jewish soul foods that’s worth making a tzimmes over.

Real tzimmes, not the sweet Yiddishism for a “big fuss,” is Ashkenazi comfort food, a stew that has so many ingredients and takes so much preparation that home cooks have a right to regard it as, well, a fuss. Understandably, this is not a dish we make every day, but on special days like Shabbat, Rosh HaShanah and Sukkot.

There is no official tzimmes recipe. Like most stews, this is a forgiving dish when it comes to ingredients. Sometimes it has meat — brisket, short ribs and such — but not always. It could include sweet potatoes and carrots, but they aren’t a must. American versions usually include a sweetener of some kind — brown sugar or maple syrup and the like, and seasonings vary from classic cinnamon to more up-to-date choices of herbs and spices such as fresh coriander and mint or ground cardamom, cumin and cayenne pepper.

Invariably, tzimmes includes vegetables and fruit, usually dried fruit. I’ve prepared it dozens of ways, traditional and not-so-traditional. Over the years I’ve come to realize a few important things, including these:

First, tzimmes doesn’t need an overdose of ingredients. A recipe I once created for Masbia Soup Kitchen was a meatless version based only on carrots, dates and raisins.

Also, old-fashioned tzimmes recipes call for hours of cooking and the dish is often kind of mushy. But unless it contains meat that requires tenderizing with low, slow heat, tzimmes doesn’t need to simmer for long. In fact, you can give the ingredients a quick roast, as I did with the Masbia Roasted Tzimmes recipe.

That is to say, despite its colloquial meaning, a good recipe for tzimmes doesn’t mean you have to fuss. Consider my recipe for Roasted Tzimmes Chicken. It’s a hearty meal-in-one-dish that’s festive looking and suitable for the holiday table. It uses chicken as its main ingredient, so it’s healthier than beef-based versions. It also doesn’t take as long to cook. There’s dried fruit and honey in the recipe, which makes it a fitting sweet food for the holidays. Bonus: it takes less than an hour to cook from start to finish. This tzimmes is no tzimmes! Recipe here.

Roasted Tzimmes Chicken

More tzimmes recipes here.


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