Jake needs no introduction. He is the man who says: Ess a bisel eppis, tatelleh! And we do, and it is his recipes we make, his food we want to eat. His cookbook Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes From A Modern Mensch alert has been the Jewish cookbook launch of 2021. And, having now given it a proper read and cooked a dozen of his recipes, I see why.
Buy this book. It is especially good for people who are into Jewish culture more than Jewish religious traditions. The loving secular Jews of America are Cohen’s people, and Jake is the perfect host.
For all those who yearn to start up some of their own Jewish traditions, on their own terms, but don’t even know what they’re missing to ask, it’s all in this book. It is the perfect holiday present for anyone who may need a reminder, or introduction, to some prayers or how to braid a challah, and provides terrific recommendations for stocking a pantry.
The recipes are classic, but they really have a great mod vibe to them. Cohen is more than just a shayne punim, his recipes are thoughtful and well organized. And when you buy Jew-ish, I very much recommend the Russian Nachos right out of the gate — it has no business being so good.
Jake Cohen’s French Onion Brisket
A brisket. I chose this because it is one of the few brisket recipes that does not have carrots. Or tomatoes.
Yeah, I said it.
It’s really delicious. One note: In all fairness, Cohen does suggest using a second cut brisket, or a first cut if you prefer less fat. I do not include that option below, and that is the only deviation from his recipe. If you can only get a first cut, by all means, use that. But given a choice… Please, please get the second cut.
French Onion Brisket
1 5-6 pound beef brisket, second cut, fat cap intact
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 cup Calvados, brandy or sherry
3 cups chicken stock
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs sage
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Season each side of the brisket with 2 heavy pinches each of salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the brisket, turning as needed, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes (see tip). Transfer the brisket to a platter.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then add the onions and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, 20 – 25 minutes. Add the Calvados, then stir for 1 minute to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the stock and 2 heavy pinches each of salt and pepper, then return the brisket to the pot. Tie together the thyme and sage sprigs with a small piece of butcher’s twine (tying is optional, but makes it makes it much easier to remove the herbs after cooking) and nestle the herb bundle into the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for 3 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes, until very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, skim off and discard any fat, if desired, and discard the herbs. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and cut it across the grain (perpendicular to the fibers you’ll see running through the brisket) into 1/4-inch-thick-slices. Return the meat to the sauce and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then serve.
All images courtesy of Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes From A Modern Mensch, Mariner Books, 2021.