Flanken with Beer and (Kosher) Bacon (Ronnie Fein)
Four Fabulous Recipes for Flanken
Four Fabulous Recipes for Flanken
Although I grew up in an Ashkenazi Jewish home, I never tasted flanken before I was grown and married. My mother said she hated the stuff and she was in charge of meals, so that was that. Luckily for me, my mother-in-law was a flanken fan. She made a mean soup that included strips of tender meat, tons of mushrooms, and barley and a generous amount of fresh dill.
I fell in love with flanken immediately, and yet, as with so many ingredients, I also started to use this cut for recipes that weren’t so traditional – grilled with barbecue sauce, for example -- and in the recipe below, where I added kosher chunk beef bacon to give a basic stew a smoky aroma and flavor.
Recently, when I asked some of my food-world friends about it, they assured me that they, too, cooked flanken in ways their bubbes would never have contemplated.
Food blogger Gloria Kobrin pairs the meat with dried apricots and fresh oranges in a gravy that includes a large dose of hoisin sauce. “It’s my go-to Purim dish,” she says, “because I enjoy serving entrees with international flavors at my large gathering of 20-30 people.” Her recipe isn’t difficult to prepare but does take some time because she cooks the meat at very low temperatures. That way, she says, “the muscle tissue breaks down and more fat melts away.” The result is “very tender, moist, fall off the bone meat.” When the dish is finished, she separates and chills the ingredients, which makes it easier to remove extra fat. Once the meat is reheated, she serves it with steamed basmati rice and a colorful array of vegetables.
The bold seasonings of the American Southwest inspired a recipe for Jalapeno Short Ribs from food blogger and cookbook author Daniella Silver, (who co-wrote "The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular” and "Silver Platter Simple Elegance: Effortless Recipes with Sophisticated Results” with food writer, cookbook author and entrepreneur Norene Gilletz). Silver says that while she loves traditional Jewish recipes, she likes to “put a spin on them” to give her meals a more modern appeal. This recipe, which she serves to company on Shabbat, “is always a wow!” Like Kobrin, she cooks the dish in parts, first marinating the meat with a layer of chili-brown sugar spice rub, which infuses it with a gentle heat mellowed by sweet. Then there’s a half-hour sear in high heat “for crust and color” followed by a slow braise in spicy sauce, “a process that targets the inside of the meat and makes it tender, juicy and melt in your mouth good.” Silver serves the dish with green beans and roasted potatoes to create “a beautifully balanced meal and colorful plate.”
Of course, it’s still a pleasure to eat flanken the delicious old-fashioned Ashkenazi Jewish way, which is what food blogger Liz Rueven does. She didn’t know exactly how her grandma Bertha Scher made the dish but the wonderful memories of the “rich aromas of soup simmering on the stove” inspired her. Rueven’s soup updates grandma’s to include fresh Portobello and shiitake mushrooms, but in all other respects is the classic, as near to the original as possible (and, incidentally, very similar to my mother-in-law’s recipe). “It’s what my grandma called a bowl of health, but for me it’s a bowl of deliciousness that suits me perfectly when I hanker for nostalgic flavors.”
Next time you see a good-looking batch of flanken in the market, consider one – or all of these – tasty recipes.
Flanken with Beer and (Kosher) Bacon By Ronnie Fein
Short Ribs in Orange-Hoisin Sauce By Gloria Kobrin
Jalapeno Short Ribs By Daniella Silver
Slow Cooker Beef Barley and Mushroom Soup By Liz Rueven
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.